Like the truest of true film fans I've not read Cormack McCarthy's "The Road" and probably won't now that I've seen the film. In most book/film cases I'd advise you either read it or watch it and never do both. Obviously if you're a fan of the book you'll probably want to watch the film, but this is a terrible idea, because one of two things will happen:
1. You'll say "that was [BLANK], not as good as the book" (placing "good", "satisfactory" or "shit" in the blank space depending on your view)
2. You'll remember the film and book as one big muddled-up memory and your recollection will be tainted and impure. Like reading "Fear and Loathing" having watched the film and reading it all in Johnny Depp's voice.
OR secret (and impossible) option number 3. In which you prefer the film.
People and so hard on films sometimes. Critics like to come across well read so they dare not see a film based on a book having not read the book, but this, as I have mentioned, is a terrible idea. So here is my pure review of "The Road" the film, on its own, without any other medium affecting it.
It's really grey. It's the greyest film ever made in colour and some of the shots look absolutely incredible. Positive use of CGI backgrounds. Completely bleak and completely fitting. The acting is spot-on. Viggo is a personal favourite and always watchable, but he is especially watchable with a big apocalyptic beard. Beards really bring out the eyes and the sorrow (watch Jeff Daniels' performance in The Squid and the Whale for further indications of this). The young boy is a little annoying, but that is to be expected, he also has some charm and an incredible likeness to his on-screen mother (Charleeeeese).
There are some scenes that will haunt me forever. Scenes, that if you had read the book, would have a softened blow, but in my optimum film-viewing state, affected me greatly. It is not quite as bleak as the bleakest of films (The Mist and Gomorra to name a few within the bleak-genre) as the film keeps a wavering sense of hope, one that can be diminished by certain horrific incidents, but recaptured in moments of intimacy between the son and father.
In retrospect it's a neatly-made, nicely edited and beautifully shot story that is in no parts preachy. And I have a man-crush on Viggo "History of Violence" Mortensen