22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 2 January 2013
This movie is a must-see for both anyone who loves cinema and also anyone who loves freedom! Finally this wonderful book by Jack Kerouac has been adapted into a film and extremely well at that. I watched it in sheer amazement. It's daring, it's provocative, it questions our notions and values on so many levels. The acting is second-to-none. Kristen Stewart especially puts on a truly magnificent performance, propelling her well beyond her time with the Twilight saga. She manages to act her immensely difficult role in such a convincing, natural way that she literally takes one's breath away. Having watched this movie, you simply want to watch it again. Straight away. It's that good. PS: if you can't wait until this comes to the UK: it's already available on amazon.fr including an English track.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 15 August 2013
Well what can I say about this film. I liked it but I didn't love it. It just didn't capture me by the heart and like afew other people I thought some of the actors were miscast. Garrett Hetlund was good but not great, he's not a character that makes u really care about him. He's not so much going on a journey but just stumbling from and running away from himself and ultimately any responsibilities to anyone and anything. I just didn't connect with him and the only time I did was right at the end of the film when he is all alone. Tom Sturridge, Kirsten Dunst and Kristen Stewart were all very good and for me were the best characters in the film. I loved Mary Lou's dancing scene and for me that gave me more sense of their passion for life than any of the sex scenes in the film. I did feel like it dragged in places, the first 15 minutes seemed the longest of my life but that's because I think, like most of us I've got used to big feature films and aren't used to the slower pace of some indie films anymore. It's not one that you'd watch over and over again but definitely worth watching at least once.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I really enjoyed this film - it's got a great performance from Amy Adams, and a nice small role for Viggo Mortensen. And it's reasonably straightforward filming of Kerouac's famous book. Or at least so I thought - however, my friend, who read the book at a really different time in his life, found that he felt it really missed the point. I think part of that comes from the ambiguity of the book. Or maybe that's not quite the right word - On The Road is the definitive travelling novel, and that's partly because it has very different feelings to different people at different times. Let's face it, only a truly exceptional film could have that same characteristic, and this isn't a truly exceptional film. Despite that, it's a good one, which I enjoyed watching.
I would definitely say read the book first, though.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
"[T]he only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn".
Over 60 years later, Jack Kerouac's beat classic finally gets the Hollywood treatment & it blazes in just the way the book deserves. Funny, because I once picked up The Dharma Bums & couldn't get into Kerouac's writing at all, yet I loved this film. It's the classic road movie - Kerouac recounts how he was charmed by charismatic drifter Neal Cassady (renamed Dean Moriarty in the book & this movie) & in 1947 began a series of road trips with him, which inevitably lead to drink, jazz, poetry & girls. Following in the other mans' wake, Kerouac (called 'Sal' in the book & film) adopts the justification worn-in by many a writer - tagging along to see what will happen but also in the knowledge that "somewhere along the line I knew there would be girls, visions, everything; somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me."
America at the time was all oppressive values & distrust of strangers. Yet here is a disparate group of free spirits creating their own conventions, two decades ahead of their time. The glamour would appeal to many a young person but as the film draws on, we see that it has a fierce price to pay. Cassady/Moriarty's upbringing was highly dysfunctional & his itchy feet ensure he in turn is barely present for his own children; the number of which continually grows, courteousy of his promiscuous ways. Selfish to the point of psychopathy, he abandons his companions whenever it starts to get serious & they need him the most, drifting over to the next party along.
Anyone who's seen The Motorcycle Diaries will know that Walter Salles was the perfect choice to direct this movie, capturing the perfect balance between portraying the joy in passing through the ever-moving landscape & moving the tale along. The period is captured perfectly, never failing to convince. Some well-known actors fill out small but significant parts, which distractedly reminded me that I was watching a movie but they put in good performances, so all was forgiven.
Being based on real-life, there is much more to ponder than with most Hollywood fodder; on how what we think we want is not really what it's cracked up to be, on daring to dream & do & dream some more anyway, despite the sometimes disappointingly mundane consequences, on wondering 'is this it? Isn't there more & what would it be? If not, how do we fill this hole?'
If you read the book first, then you don't like the movie, and vice versa. Thus I suspect this one won't get the plaudits I reckon it deserves. But I'm a fan.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
It is always a tall order to translate a classic book into a film and I was fully prepared to detest this one. I was definitely one of those who pronounced this 'unfilmable'.
However,I was pleasantly surprised by both by the treatment of the story and the actors. I wasn't at all convinced that Kristen Stewart would make a good Marylou but I have to say she won me over.
There's not a lot to say about the story ... it's a road trip, there is lots of introspection and writing and copious amounts of sex and drugs. The actors turn in very compelling performances and the film is beautifully shot.
For me, the book in this case is king, but the film is still worth watching.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I read Kerouac's novel about 30 years ago and didn't really care for it much then; my impressions were of unlikable people aimlessly looking for something indefinable - I didn't realise that this was one of the first books to question the façade of "The American Dream" and a defining picture of an alienated generation.
This film adaptation hasn't really changed my view of the novel much; Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund) is a classic libertine - charismatic, self-centred, heedless of the destructiveness of his actions on the lives of others. That charisma, Dean's lust for life that so inspires Sal Paradise (Sam Riley) in the novel isn't really translated adequately onto the screen here; the film does present an unvarnished picture of the buttoned-up, conformist, politically paranoid post-war society that the Beat generation reacted against, but the adventure of self-discovery and coming to terms with adulthood that the novel expressed, isn't articulately conveyed on screen. There`s a lot of experimentation with drugs, sex, a lot of male bonding (maybe too much for some) and something of the eponymous road trips (which ironically are already a cliché before this daddy-of-`em-all got made).
In it`s favour, it's a beautifully photographed film and the music throughout is interesting and evocative (some scenes featuring atmospheric John Cage-like "melodious thunk" improvisations between bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Brian Blade deserve a special mention).
The actors acquit themselves well with the material given; there isn't much for the female cast members to work with though - like the book it`s too much of a male-orientated narrative. Kristen Stewart isn't given much chance to portray Marylou as the live-wire she should be - the part seems under-written - and Terry (Alice Braga) barely gets a look-in. Kirsten Dunst as Camille, for all the short time she appears on-screen, gives a really telling performance as the lively, intelligent young woman who comes to realise the situation she's left in after her involvement with the feckless Dean.
Viggo Mortensen as Bull Lee - based on William Burroughs - gives a suitably oddball portrayal.
I think this will probably be seen in hindsight as a somewhat underrated movie of an overrated novel; it has been a yawn-fest for some reviewers - it doesn't really convey all the novel has to say but most of it is here; I do think the emphasis of the film is downbeat though, which won't chime with those who loved the novel for its energy and passion. I`d give 3 1/2 stars if I could.
The film is presented in widescreen; there are English only subtitles. Six short deleted scenes are offered as extras.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I wanted to like this film, even though I didn't like the book which I read many years ago. Too much a "boys" book for my taste. Unfortunately I think the film over states the worst aspects of the two main characters (Dean and Sal) and left me really disliking Dean the whole film. I then watched the deleted scenes and saw a different Dean. He was much more rounded out and I could warm to him a little at least.
Sal(Jack Kerouac) meets Dean (Neil Cassidy) not long after his father died. He sees something in Dean that attracts him like a long lost brother, and together with Carlo (Alan Ginsberg), they hang out exploring music (Yip Rock Jazz), poetry, drugs and a lot of sex. I don't remember the sex in the book. It is casual, meaningless sex that bodes no respect towards anyone. Dean treats women with an offensiveness that makes you long for the feminism that will not appear for more than twenty years in the future.
I had thought that this was a story about being on the road for the love of travel and the self discovery that can bring. Not here. In the film the journeys are episodic and made for a purpose, except the last one to Mexico which did seem to be just for the sheer pleasure of an adventure.
The best parts of the film are on the road. Good cinematography while Sal narrates excerpts of what will become his book. If only more of the film had this flow and poetry. Instead too much is cut out and the sex exploits seem to dominate. Yes Dean was a young man but are drugs and sex his only interests? Maybe. He has in fact a family in San Francisco , his wife Camille and two young daughters. He himself has no idea where his own father is and at times he is seen searching Denver for any traces of the man.
Other characters that play a small part include Bull Lee, in real life William Boroughs who was a good friend to Sal.
The acting by the two main characters was not as I imagined them to be. They lacked the aura needed to play such big characters. However the acting by the two female main characters was very good and much more convincing. Other supporting cast gave good performances.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Yeh...it's a pretty good attempt at making a film version of a book that a lot of people thought was un-filmable. It certainly reflects the dissolute, hedonistic and ultimately self destructive lifestyle of these early beatniks. Lost as they were in a culture of drugs,sex and unfulfilled creativity. The main character, Dean Moriarty is well played by Garrett Hedlund who convincingly portrays Moriarty (based on beat writer Neal Cassidy) as the feckless doomed anti hero who despite being the focal point of the group,is actually a rather sad and selfish character with few redeeming features apart from a roguish charm.The character Sol (based on Kerouac himself)played by Sam Riley,is the only truly sympathetic character we can relate to.Given his role as one of the few characters who appears to have any degree of conscience and empathy.Kristen Stewart convinces as the promiscuous love interest of both Moriarty and Sol, whole willingness to indulge their fantasies is ultimately betrayed with nothing of substance to show for the wild experience. The film is good to look at and even the music compliments the overall atmosphere. Not exactly a five star classic in my book but worthwhile all the same.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
I haven't read Jack Kerouac's 1951 novel, so I can't say how faithful this film is to the book.
The film is set in 1947. Sal Paradise is a writer, who goes on a road trip with his free spirited friend Dean Moriarty and his girlfriend Marylou. On the trip they meet a variety of characters and smoke a lot of majuarana and take a lot of benzedrine.
The cast is superb. Kristen Stewart is wonderful as Marylou, the louche girlfriend. Kirsten Dunst is also excellent. It took me a while to recognise Viggo Mortenson who was unrecognisable as Hunter S Thompson in a brilliantly acted cameo, and Steve Buscemi is brilliant too. Sam Riley plays Sal (based on Jack Kerouac) - Sam is from Leeds, and was really good in "Control", which told the story of Joy Division's Ian Curtis. You wouldn't recognise him as British in this film.
The film isn't funny, like "Rum Diary" (which I loved) or squalid, like "Trainspotting", which I thought was another great film. Overall I was a bit disappointed to be honest. This is a road movie and yet I felt I got little sense of the landscape through which they were travelling. I believe the film is meant to challenge the values and morals of society but I didn't feel the characters were quite free spirited enough. I think Johnny Depp probably made the right decision when he turned down the role of Sal (if that's true). The characters seem depressed and whilst I haven't read the book, I am not sure this is quite how the story is meant to come across. They just don't seem to be enjoying being free spirits enough! However, it is brilliantly acted, and I guess if you are a fan of modern American literature, you will enjoy this film.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Every Humanties student's favourite pocket book On The Road finally makes it to the big screen thanks to Walter Salles and Francis Ford Coppola. It's as faithful an adaptation as you are likely to see and thankfully the cast of youngsters doesn't take anything away from the authentic post war setting. Much of the controversy and coverage the film saw before release was due to Kristen Stewart's sex scenes - apparently young actresses are still not allowed to stray beyond the boundaries of their most famous characters for fear of causing chaos amongst the legion of fans - kudos for Stewart for choosing a role so different from the childish, embarassing, one dimensional mess we see in that silly little vampire series.
The cast and setting are amonst the film's strongest points. While the cast is large and luminous, meaning certain players only feature in a handful of short scenes, the list of names is impressive and everybody excels. The late 40s, early 50s setting is clear in every scene, from the soundtrack, to the costumes, to the cars, the cities, the little touches. We get the dual sense of vibrancy and loneliness creeping through, but this is not as great a point of focus as in the novel. Here, we get many scenes of sex, drug use, travelling, mixed with the scenes of reflection, pain, guilt, but they don't flow together as a whole to give the constant feeling of pace, of being on a journey which Kerouac's words so effectively delivered. Rather than being a tale of youthful exhuberance, friendship, a quest for self, place, and destiny, we see instead a jumbled series of memories which are more like the snapshot of any average student's life with the emotional impact strewn out. There is clearly an emptiness at the core of many of the characters, if not each of them at some point, but given that each is wrapped up in their own loneliness or apathy at the time when another is suffering, we don't get a chance to relate, empathise, or care.
For all the supposed controversy, none of what you will see is shocking, unless you've had your eyes closed for the last 60 years. The sex scenes are not exploitative or tacky, but as each one progresses we see how the excitement is lessened until it becomes an inconsequential chore. The scenes of booze and drugs are not as powerful as the book and certainly lack the impact they would have had upon the book's release. The theme of freedom is also lost in translation as it has become so corporate now to go 'On The Road' now; it's almost the more rebellious option to get a job and settle down. For those rebels and dreamers amongst us born in the 80s and 90s, nothing is shocking, little is new, and all experience is second hand. The only true journey is within our own minds.
Salles does a decent job directing, even if many of the novel's themes are diluted or miss the bullseye. Naturally it would be difficult to score full marks across the board, but he does let the novel's dialogue and setting shine through. Riley as Sal is a fine lead, although he is largely detached from proceedings as narrator, Stewart reminds us that she is a good actress if we could only shake off the sparkles, Hedlund is the star performer as Dean, and the rest of the cast fill in the blanks nicely. Fans of the book should certainly give this a try but will likely be disappointed. Console yourself with the fact that the book will always be an original, and the punch it gave on your first reading will stay with you forever.