WARNING: SPOILER ALERT!!! If you haven't read The Road yet (are you living under a rock???) or seen the movie (definitely more forgivable) you might not want to read any further.
So, I finally did it. I rented The Road, sat down, and watched it. The whole thing!! I've been meaning to do this since it came out in theaters. I'd been following the progress of the film online before the many postponed release dates.
The first 90% of the movie was great. Suspenseful, emotional, and quick-moving, I sincerely enjoyed it. Then came the ending. Oh, the ending! Why, Hollywood, why?!?! I was barely able to control my scoffing when, at the conclusion of the movie, the boy is united with a family that had been "following them all along" including a mother and son I could have sworn we'd seen get hacked up earlier in the film. This wasn't right at all, so I determined to put my complaints to blog-form and tear the ending apart.
This is when things started to get funny. I sat down this morning, with the movie fresh in my mind and grabbed a copy of The Road off the shelf in order to reference the REAL ending. I was shocked to find that the movie HAD represented the "real" ending, almost word for word with the exception of a few corny lines delivered by the mother.
Had the two years since I'd read The Road been enough time for my brain to completely reshape the ending? I didn't think so, because I remembered discussing what I considered the "ambiguous and unclosed ending" with friends. I think, instead, that Hollywood is not to blame, but rather the conceptualizing of any written form. Basically, because I didn't trust the people at the end, I saw their appearance as ambiguous. When screenwriter Joe Penhall read the end, he must have seen the people as a force of good.
The problem with movies based on books is not always boiled down to poor adaptation. It's more that reading is so personal that no director can tap into our heads enough to portray scenes and characters the exact way we imagined it. No adaptation will ever please everyone simply because everyone related to the book in a different way.