On Wednesday evening my friend Sam invited me to a preview screening of The Road, the new movie based on the book by Cormac McCarthy. Sam is a friend from Deadspin and a location scout for movie productions and he writes A Scouting Life, one of the most fascinating blogs I've ever read. (Start from the beginning if you haven't read it before; the entry on the Native American bar is spellbinding.) The film itself is every bit as powerful and moving as the book on which it's based. The filmmakers captured the novel's bleak environment without CGI or special effects. And the actors' performances were pitch-perfect. Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee seemed like they'd leapt from the pages of the book. Their relationship was so intimate and heartfelt that the room got a little dusty at the end of the film.
After the movie, Mortensen and director John Hillcoat participated in a Q&A session moderated by a writer from Variety. They talked about the entire process, from reading the script and meeting McCarthy to scouting locations to shooting. Mortensen spoke of his relationship with his son and how his experience of being a father helped with his performance. Both he and Hillcoat joked about how the cinematographer would shout and rage when the sun came out, spoiling a cloudy scene. Near the end of the session, Mortensen had a trivia challenge for us, asking us progressively more difficult questions about the movie. The prizes included copies of McCarthy's books, CDs and DVDs, and cookies from a local bakery. One happy cookie winner asked Mortensen to take a bite of the cookie before giving it away, so he and Hillcoat obliged. I should have answered a question about a piece of music in the movie, especially since I'd seen the title in the credits, but I wasn't 100% certain of the answer. And everyone knows I hate to be wrong in a trivia contest. Besides, I didn't want a Noam Chomsky DVD as a prize.