Review: Immerse Yourself in 1930s America with ‘Road to Perdition’ this Saturday Night
Film Four, Saturday 11th October, 9pm Alert Me
When I say the words ‘1930s bleak struggle’ does it send a little historical shiver down your spine? Are you, for whatever reason, in the mood for some shadowy, American city scenes surrounding men in trilby hats and long coats bearing guns this weekend? If so, Sam Mendes’ 2002 movie, Road to Perdition, is just the film to flick to this Saturday night.
A screenplay adapted by David Self from the graphic novel by Max Allan Collins, Road to Perdition stars Tom Hanks as Michael Sullivan, an assassin living in Illinois during the Great Depression, who is forced to flee with his son from the crime organization he has worked in all his life. Head of the mob, John Rooney (Paul Newman), took Michael on when he was an orphan giving him a home and a job as his enforcer (not the most peaceful of occupations to give your fostered son I’m sure we’d all agree…). Now, Michael has a family of his own and after his son, by chance, witnesses Rooney’s son, Connor (Daniel Craig), murder a discontented employee, the film becomes a quest for Michael to protect him from the mob’s mission to tie up loose ends.
There’s a heavy, brooding air to this film (I mean, no sh*t- the period was called the Great Depression), which is vastly enhanced by its dramatic lighting. This particular form of illumination, Mendes maintains, is inspired by artist Edward Hopper’s vividly lit paintings of the ‘30s, which are known for their themes of loneliness- another element that is emphasised in the movie. Ruthless self-preservation vs. protection of loved ones and the relationship of father and son are what pervades throughout Road to Perdition against the somewhat grim background that is eternal damnation (perdition).
This is Tom Hanks at his best (bar his wonderful performance in the later Charlie Wilson’s War). Watch it and blissfully immerse yourself in a captivating personal tale within the sprawling web of America’s vast history.
By Susan Allen