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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Road

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

The theological ambiguity underlying "The Road" (Dimension) is highlighted by a scene set in a ruined church.

As the two main characters in this moving but relentlessly grim post-apocalyptic drama take shelter in the abandoned sanctuary, alert viewers will note that, although its artwork is in shreds and its altar has been displaced, a cross-shaped window shines above the wayfarers with a light virtually absent from every other environment they—and we with them—have encountered.

That's about as much hope as this dystopian tale holds out in chronicling the desperate journey through a devastated America of a father, identified only as The Man (a mesmerizing Viggo Mortensen) and his son, called only The Boy (fine newcomer Kodi Smit-McPhee).

Traveling on foot along what's left of the interstate highway system, some years after the unspecified cataclysm that destroyed both the ecology and civilization, the pair encounter marauding cannibals, crafty thieves and a few shell-shocked survivors—most notably The Old Man (Robert Duvall), an aged, nearly blind prophet figure pondering the meaning or unmeaning of it all—on their way to what they hope will be a marginally better life along the coast.

Occupying the pitted no-man's-land between a Samuel Beckett play and "The Road Warrior," director John Hillcoat's adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a stark examination of one man's efforts to preserve, and pass on, humane values—to "carry the fire," as Joe Penhall's script terms it—a labor in which he is refreshed only by the instinctive goodness of his youthful companion.

Yet, in the excess of his love, the father indulges in a quasi-idolatrous exultation of the boy that, like the borderline-blasphemous sentiments expressed by other characters, would be completely unacceptable in a less extreme context.

The film contains complex moral and theological issues, grisly images, cannibalism and suicide themes, rear and brief partial nudity, a few uses of profanity and occasional rough and crude language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

******
John Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


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Alphonsus Rodriguez: Tragedy and challenge beset today’s saint early in life, but Alphonsus Rodriguez found happiness and contentment through simple service and prayer. 
<p>Born in Spain in 1533, Alphonsus inherited the family textile business at 23. Within the space of three years, his wife, daughter and mother died; meanwhile, business was poor. Alphonsus stepped back and reassessed his life. He sold the business and, with his young son, moved into his sisters’ home. There he learned the discipline of prayer and meditation. </p><p>Years later, at the death of his son, Alphonsus, almost 40 by then, sought to join the Jesuits. He was not helped by his poor education. He applied twice before being admitted. For 45 years he served as doorkeeper at the Jesuits’ college in Majorca. When not at his post, he was almost always at prayer, though he often encountered difficulties and temptations. </p><p>His holiness and prayerfulness attracted many to him, including St. Peter Claver, then a Jesuit seminarian. Alphonsus’s life as doorkeeper may have been humdrum, but he caught the attention of poet and fellow-Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins, who made him the subject of one of his poems. </p><p>Alphonsus died in 1617. He is the patron saint of Majorca.</p> American Catholic Blog People mess up, and it’s especially hard to watch as our children and other young people go down paths we know are likely to lead to heartbreak. Providing gentle guidance when it’s needed, and love even when that guidance isn’t followed, helps them to start fresh.

 
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