The Mixed Tape

The Characters of The Road by Nolan Wilson Goff

The most startling and mind blowing aspect of The Road is without a doubt the characters. Drawing from the foundation Cormac McCarthy provided, screenwriter Joe Penhall and the cast created vivid performances and lifelike characters. Here is a look at three of the characters:

The Man (played by Viggo Mortensen):


It is an archetype seen often on the silverscreen: a father protecting his loved ones. What is different about this father? The difference lies in the man behind the character. Viggo Mortensen‘s emotionally driven performance is the best of his career and the best of the year. The Road’s central characters, The Man and The Boy, are on a journey to an unknown place specified as the coast. The Man repeatedly proves his love for his son, despite the adverse circumstances. Many of the conversations in the story are real life conversations Cormac McCarthy had with his son.

Picture 1The secret to Viggo’s moving performance is his eyes. His eyes communicate everything the audience (and his son) need to know. Everything one feels in this film, is because of Viggo’s eyes. He will do whatever it takes to protect and prepare his son to “carry the fire.”

The Boy (played by Kodi Smit-McPhee):


What would it be like to be born into a post-apocalyptic world? With innocence and his childhood lost, The Boy is lost, and Smit-McPhee behaves just so. Smit-McPhee’s performance was good (not great), but his chemistry with Mortensen is what is extraordinary. They were truly a father and son. The Boy’s arc from innocent and afraid to carrier of “the fire” is a direct reflection of Mortensen and Smit-McPhee’s relationship.

The Earth:


Wait. Can the earth ACTUALLY be a character? Yes. Much like the deterioration of our protagonist father and son, the earth is also deteriorated. It is empty, void, and gruesome. Just like the main characters, at times, the earth’s disgusting underbelly is revealed. The sky, is gray and dark, a mirroring of the character’s faces and emotions. As they reach the coast, a place that should be a place of refuge, peace, and tranquility, they witness more of the same. The deteriorating earth is every bit as large of a character as The Man and The Boy.

Further evidence of the fantastic characters is Robert Duvall’s short, but Oscar worthy performance as an old man along the road.

Carry the fire,

– Nolan Wilson Goff

P.S. Next up: The Visuals of The Road


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