The Time Online says, “the rumourmongers were wrong ‚Äî Hillcoat‚Äôs vision is forthright and brutal.”
Post-apocalyptic cinema ‚Äî from Mad Max to Twelve Monkeys to Children of Men ‚Äî has proved time and again that there is nothing that production designers relish more than a hellish dystopian future to fire their enthusiasm. But even by the striking standards of the genre, Chris Kennedy‚Äôs work as production designer is remarkable. Kennedy (who previously collaborated with Hillcoat on The Proposition) appears to have harvested all the ravaged, gnarled scrap metal in the Midwest and deposited it in twisted piles of automotive agony in every shot. The film is almost entirely composed of shades of suicidal grey. The monochrome is punctuated by flashbacks to a life before that are infused with the kind of saturated colours that now exist only in dreams.
ScreenDaily (via Craig Kennedy) praises the art direction, as well:
As heartbreaking on screen as it was on Cormac McCarthy‚Äôs Pulitzer-prize winning pages, The Road is an almost unbearably sad film, beautifully arranged and powerfully acted ‚Äì a tribute to the array of talents involved. There is so much in this picture, from dread, horror, to suspense, bitterly moving love, extraordinary, Oscar-worthy art direction and a desperate lead performance from Viggo Mortensen which perfectly illustrates the wrenching desperation of parental love.
Artistically, however, this film is a success, and anyone who sees it is unlikely to ever forget John Hillcoat‚Äôs (The Proposition) interpretation of McCarthy‚Äôs post-apocalyptic planet where ‚Äúeach day is greyer than the one before‚Äù. Production designer Chris Kennedy, using mainly Pennsylvania but also post-Katrina locations in Louisiana, presents a world which is slowly dying – Nick Cave‚Äôs sparse soundtrack punctuated by the crashes of trees falling to the ground, dead.
4 more clips of bleak beauty and grim resilience, after the cut.