On the Road (2012)

On the Road
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Strong sex scenes

Director: Walter Salles
Actors: Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley, Amy Adams, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Steve Buscemi, Elisabeth Moss, Terrence Howard, Tom Sturridge, Alice Braga

Dean and Sal are the portrait of the Beat Generation. Their search for It results in a fast paced, energetic roller coaster ride with highs and lows throughout the U.S.

DVD
Status: QuickPick
Run time: 137mins
Origin: UNITED STATES
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Rambling
by Simon Miraudo,

I had endeavoured to finally read Jack Kerouac's legendary, Beat Generation-defining novel On the Road before watching the long-awaited film adaptation. Any misgivings I had about its notoriously rambling prose was immediately dispelled after the first few pages; it was surprisingly fluid and still fresh more than 60 years after its publication. Though I was unable to complete the book before sitting down to Walter Salles' take on the tome, I felt I had a handle on Kerouac's style, without spoiling for myself the late revelations of the plot. Having now endured all 137 minutes, it's going to be a difficult task willing myself to return to the text. I'm sure the rest of it is excellent, but how can one bring themselves to go back on a trip that wound out so tediously on celluloid? Salles' ...

I had endeavoured to finally read Jack Kerouac's legendary, Beat Generation-defining novel On the Road before watching the long-awaited film adaptation. Any misgivings I had about its notoriously rambling prose was immediately dispelled after the first few pages; it was surprisingly fluid and still fresh more than 60 years after its publication. Though I was unable to complete the book before sitting down to Walter Salles' take on the tome, I felt I had a handle on Kerouac's style, without spoiling for myself the late revelations of the plot. Having now endured all 137 minutes, it's going to be a difficult task willing myself to return to the text. I'm sure the rest of it is excellent, but how can one bring themselves to go back on a trip that wound out so tediously on celluloid?

Salles' languid road movie in no way recreates the electricity of Kerouac's writing or the era it sought to define. Howl suffered a similar fate; despite concerning Allen Ginsberg's culturally explosive poem, the picture was positively lethargic. Sam Riley and Garrett Hedlund star as Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty respectively (stand-ins for Kerouac and Beat muse Neal Cassady); poets who hitch, drive, drink, and screw their way around the United States. Sal is looking for inspiration to help him write a new kind of novel, while Dean is just going back and forth between his teenage ex-wife Marylou (Kristen Stewart) and embittered baby-mama Camille (Kirsten Dunst), having a hell of a time along the way.

Well, at least they're having a good time. Hedlund throws himself head first into the role, but the poor boy's enthusiasm can't breathe life into a movie with the liveliness of a corpse. Stewart is remarkably adept at playing an overly sexualised young woman desperate for release (wonder where she honed that talent...). As for Riley, he's saddled with the pic's least interesting character and the unenviable task of having to regularly sit at a typewriter and make it look super exciting; he does however have the advantage of reciting that beautiful narration. Unfortunately, he just can't quite convince as Paradise.

Eventually, On the Road becomes less like a freewheeling journey across America than it does a tour of the country's best character actors. Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams, Terrence Howard, Steve Buscemi, and Elisabeth Moss are all excellent in their small roles, but none register for more than a couple minutes on screen. There's nothing necessarily wrong with bringing in talented ringers to round out a cast, but the picture could have benefited greatly from featuring them more prominently. Or, perhaps it could have been 10 minutes long in total, and simply made up of their memorable moments. As it stands, the film is currently the length of infinity.

Some great works are not just a great story; they are intrinsically tied to their form. Powell and Pressburger's The Red Shoes is a brilliant reinterpretation of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy-tale, but it's also an invigorating and visually marvellous movie. Samuel Beckett's plays are meant to confront viewers, and are benefited by the immediate presence of an audience shifting awkwardly and audibly in their seats. On the Road is a book, and not only is it a book, it's a book about the writing of a very different kind of book. As a feature, it's a rambling, tedious, seemingly unending mess that can't be salvaged by three decent but mostly underwhelming performances. Salles and his DOP Eric Gautier made it look nice, but they and screenwriter Jose Rivera never had a chance. Maybe some Benzedrine would make the whole experience seem worthwhile.

2/5

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Member Reviews (26)

Lifeless characters, dull film.
Posted Wednesday, 16 October 2013 See my other reviews
Denise
says
One ot the worst movies Ive seen in a while. Way to slow and quite boring. Kristens acting was so slack
Posted Thursday, 19 September 2013 See my other reviews
steve lynch
says
The first adaption of this groundbreaking book from the late 1950's is a huge disappointment. Garrett Hudland's brooding Dean Moriaty lacks all of the manic charisma of the book's character, and the boundary pushing, intellectual questioning of Kerouac and friends becomes simply a sex and drug-fest. The film's only redeeming factor is some magnicient scenes of the American countryside and believable 1940s streetscapes. The film itself however is not worth the effort. For a much better adaption see the 1980's film "Heartbreak" with Nick Nolte as Neal Cassady.
Posted Wednesday, 28 August 2013 See my other reviews
BORING
says
I expected much more landscapes. What a disappointment! Boring! The beginning of the film is a drama taking place in a city and not a "road film" at all...Then I have fallen asleep out of deep and genuine boredom... Recommended for drama buffs only.
Posted Friday, 16 August 2013 See my other reviews
Good looking cast are easy on the eyes but the meandering storyline was a bit hard to follow a times. Might have been different if I'd read the book it was based on.
Posted Monday, 12 August 2013 See my other reviews
BP
says
Disappointed. Couldn't be bothered finishing watching it
Posted Tuesday, 23 July 2013 See my other reviews
garrett
says
fairly good look at the beat generation of the 40s and 50s. Bit slow to appeal to everyone
Posted Thursday, 11 July 2013 See my other reviews
Liz
says
This one is definitely a case of 'read the book first'. Kerouac's words really jump off the page and it's your imagination that brings this story to life. I honestly don't think this interpretation quite got there. Too many shots of feet on tarmac. But it did jump and jive to the music and poems of the 40's and it showed us a life of freedom that could be lead in those years. Sadly you could never jump boxcars or hitchhike or just roam around America these days - too dangerous and too restrictive. The mad genius, Dean Moriarty would be locked up today. It's quite sad to see how much liberty we have lost actually. Thank God the Beats wrote what they did, when they did.
Posted Saturday, 22 June 2013 See my other reviews
Luthien Nienna
says
Perhaps if I had read the book I would have gotten more out of the story. I was unsure what I was meant to get from this story. The cars, clothes, and seeing the landscape of America in the late 40s was interesting. Still worth a look, but possibly read the book first.
Posted Friday, 14 June 2013 See my other reviews
dan
says
Kirsten stewart very different ,worth a look
Posted Tuesday, 28 May 2013 See my other reviews
Trish
says
Nice performances by the two male leads. But other than that, Bored Now.
Posted Monday, 27 May 2013 See my other reviews
Art S.
says
It may be 20 or even 25 years since I've read Kerouac's On The Road (my yellowed paperback contains a signature that seems miles away from my current one). It meant something to me back then and Walter Salles' adaptation gets an extra half-star just for letting me think about those days of unbridled and reasonably unfettered youth. This is the story of Sal Paradise's contact with the nearly mythical (truly unfettered) Dean Moriarty, during the late 1940s and early 1950s when giving up everything (and/or trying to be a writer) to hit the road as a free spirit wasn't necessarily the done thing. Nor is it now and the basic predilection for security and stability in all of us isn't hidden in the novel or the movie, but there is some sadness involved in both choices. Nevertheless, the movie is too literal (only capturing some of Kerouac's feeling), too long, and, in the end, too unlikely to inspire anyone -- so it has lost the magic of the novel. But it still gets that extra half star for bringing me back to that place.
Posted Sunday, 12 May 2013 See my other reviews
wrong actor to play jack karouck can never get the beat right
Posted Tuesday, 30 April 2013 See my other reviews
Ludmila
says
This movie is good just to remember how drugs&party takes you nowhere! Young adults with no responsability, bondaries, nothing actually.. just sex and drugs. Was hard to keep going until the end.. waste of time.. terrible movie!
Posted Tuesday, 30 April 2013 See my other reviews
All over the place, terrible. A complete yawn. Turned it off after an hour.
Posted Thursday, 18 April 2013 See my other reviews
I loved the book.... this movie ruined it for me.
Posted Thursday, 18 April 2013 See my other reviews
wayne f
says
unwatchable........... as bad as the book
Posted Thursday, 18 April 2013 See my other reviews
The Wez
says
Though there’s plenty of cool jazz in the background, the movie lacks the novel’s exuberant syncopation — it misses the beat as well as the Beat. Some day someone may make a movie worthy of On the Road, but this one goes off the curb. This trip goes nowhere
Posted Wednesday, 3 April 2013 See my other reviews
Sil
says
Ho hum
Posted Monday, 25 March 2013 See my other reviews
McLovin
says
If you liked the book you'll like the film, the pace is similar and the activity too. If you didn't like the book, or you're not aware that there is a book, then don't bother. This film is all over the place, dull, repetitive and pointless. But then, that's exactly the point Kerouac was making.
Posted Tuesday, 19 March 2013 See my other reviews
gerd
says
Constant smoking, lots of booze, drugs and partying, irresponsible fast driving and sex as it comes, don't make for a very interesting or involving film. It gets better as some drama and personalities emerge, but it's too little too late.
Posted Saturday, 16 March 2013 See my other reviews
CL-D
says
A classy movie in most respects but I somehow felt an empty, let down feeling after the end. Everything ended without resolution and it left me with hollow feeling. Maybe this is the intention.
Posted Friday, 15 March 2013 See my other reviews
Jess
says
Was ok, wouldnt highly recommened it. Kristen Stewart wasnt bad, the character that played Dean - was amazing!
Posted Thursday, 7 March 2013 See my other reviews
Robert
says
Excellent movie. I watched it 3 times before returning it. Nothing could match the iconic book that it is based on, but this movie could easily stand on its own merit as a very well made, professionally acted movie. The story is scattered but then so was the book. I have read the book twice and simply love this movie
Posted Wednesday, 27 February 2013 See my other reviews
I thought it a good watch,. Especially since i was never was much good at reading the book. It didn't go for too long and always had a lot happening.
Posted Tuesday, 26 February 2013 See my other reviews
Dreadful. Just dreadful. A huge disappointment for fans of the book, and a pointless movie for those who have not read it. (Read the book instead of watching this movie!) Jack Kerouac must be turning in his grave. One star for effort by all the young actors who try their hardest with a bad script and the numerous (and exceptionally ugly) sex scenes.
Posted Thursday, 21 February 2013 See my other reviews