Under normal circumstances, adapting a best-selling Pulitzer Prize-winning novel for the big-screen might be an unnerving prospect but when it came to making The Road, director John Hillcoat had an ace in his pocket.

“Luckily I read it before it was published so none of that baggage was there,” admitted the filmmaker during a recent interview.

“But what I did was not try to think of all (the expectations). To me, it was just one of the most moving love stories I’ve ever come across and that’s what we were all engaged with.”

For those who’ve crossed paths with Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece, the film is every bit as bleak, beautiful and heart-wrenching as the 2006 novel.

Set in a not-so-far away post-apocalyptic time, Viggo Mortensen plays a father who struggles to survive alongside his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) in a world where the solace of discovering a cellar full of canned pears is tantamount to buried treasure.

Matching that tone was crucial and anyone familiar with Hillcoat’s 2005 film The Proposition knew the director had a knack for capturing that same bleak landscape that was necessary for The Road.

“(Landscape) is like one of the main characters,” said Hillcoat of his mastery of atmosphere. “In both (The Proposition and The Road), the characters actually react to the environment in a (similar) way to how they act off each other so it’s quite a dynamic relationship.”

“(In The Road), it’s not enough sun and too much cold and each creates a pressure on how people live and relate.”

The Road opens next Friday.