On The Road TIFF 2012 Review

Posted 11 years ago by myetvmedia

On The Road: Review Salles Fails To Find Jack Kerouac’s Voice TIFF 2012

Walter Salles’ highly anticipated adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s beat- generation novel On The Road starring Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley, Amy Adams, Viggo Mortenson, Kirsten Dunst and Tom Sturridge premiered at TIFF 2012. The glitz and the glamour of the Red Carpet had everyone buzzing despite the hour long wait to get into the theatre. I wasn’t the only one who had On The Road on my list of most anticipated films of the TIFF season. How could you blame me; a cast of so many A-listers, a visionary director and this first screen adaptation of one of American great novels?

It’s obvious from the opening moments of this film that Salles has put his heart and soul into this film, using over 60,000 miles of footage; the panoramic, breathtaking landscapes crossed from desert backdrops to rolling, snow covered hills of the northern regions of Canada. There was no shortage of visual eye-candy either, from stars to scenery. While the cinematography was stunning and quite reminiscent of Salles’ earlier film “The Motorcylce Diaries” his adaptation of Kerouc’s book On The Road  sadly never quite hit the mark for me.

You’re introduced to Sal Paradise (Sam Riley), and within seconds you see that liberties have been taken with Kerouac’s story, but nit-pick the small story changes I shan’t since my problems with this film just kept multiplying. Sal gets involved with traveller and mystic Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund) and both of them take off  ‘on the road’ to live the life of the ‘beat – swinging’, ‘in the movement’ generation of the late 40′s America. It’s all drugs, jazz, sex and chill dawns. Despite Salles attempts to showcase the life-style and the parties he never seems to grasp the poetry or the revolutionary vibe this era represented. The small snippets of Kerouac’s prose fail to communicate the ferocity and passion that Kerouac invoked, and what seems to be missing most from On The Road is Kerouac’s voice altogether.

The all-star cast give fine performances and save this movie despite the script seeming to continually lose direction. Kristen Stewart as Dean’s wild young first wife MaryLouTom Sturridge as prophetic Carlo Marx, and Sam Riley as Sal Paradise himself are spot on. It’s a shame that this script didn’t allow you to see the depth of Sal’s true romantic nature or how wise Carlo truly is. I applaud Garrett Hedlund for his representation of Dean Moriarty. What a character to take on.

Hedlund seems to do the best he can with what he’s got providing a wild, confused and exuberant character portrayal of the man who was born on the road. The film picked up for me with the introduction of Viggo Mortensen and Amy Adams. These two actors can act their way out of a paper bag, or in this case a disjointed script, giving the audience a full ten minutes of laughter and genuine entertainment. All and all though the talented actors can’t distract from the fact that Kerouac’s most iconic moments were lost or fell flat on the big screen.

On The Road is worth the seeing if you like the idea of Kerouac’s story, but never had the chance to read it. You won’t know what you’re missing.


Lauren Schell



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