ON THE ROAD
Aimless Humanist Nomads
Release Date: December 21, 2012
Starring: Garret Hedlund, Sam Riley,
Kristen Stewart, Tom
Sturridge, Amy Adams, Viggo
Mortensen, Steve Buscemi,
Kirsten Dunst, Terrence
Howard, Michael Serrazin
Runtime: 137 minutes
Distributor: Sundance Selects/IFC
Director: Walter Salles
Executive Producer: Patrick Batteux, Francis Ford
Coppola, Jerry Leider
Producer: Charles Gillibert, Nathanael
Karmitz, Rebecca Yeldham
Writer: Jose Rivera
Address Comments To:Evan Shapiro, President
Sundance Channel (Sundance Selects)
Rainbow Media Holdings LLC
(Independent Film Channel/IFC Films/IFC First Take/Sundance Channel/AMC/WE)
11 Penn Plaza, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (646) 273-7336; Fax: (646) 273-7260
Sal Paradise is a beat writer who’s having writer’s block but needs to finish his novel. Confiding in his friend Carlo, another beat writer, they discuss the methods while smoking marijuana. Carlo is fascinated with his friend Dean and introduces him to Sal. Instantly becoming close friends, Sal, Carlo and Dean create a bond. For Carlo, that’s a bond of love. Though Dean is married to a 16-year-old, Marylou, he invites Carlo to join them in their sexual experiences.
Leaving their residence in New York, Carlo, Marylou and Dean drive out of town to find adventure. Not long after, Sal decides to join them, but hitchhikes along the way, meeting different characters, including a beautiful women named Terry. Terry lives on a cotton farm. Sal decides to stay on the cotton farm and work for his living, while developing an intimate relationship with Terry.
Returning to his friends, Dean, Carlo and Marylou, Sal finds Dean acting out in his same old charades: sleeping with multiple women while married and attracting even men. At this point, Carlo has fallen into love with Dean, but Dean continues to use everyone around him almost as if he has a sexual addiction.
After traveling around America for some time, the friends meet all different types of people who later become characters in their poetry.
ON THE ROAD has a humanist worldview with existential characters questioning their existence and experimenting with drugs. The movie is debauched and graphic in its depictions. It does, however, outline the themes of the so-called beatnik generation. Among the story’s fictionalized characters, Sal is supposed to be Kerouac, while Carlo is supposed to be the homosexual poet Allen Ginsburg.
Later in life, Kerouac regretted the novel’s negative effects on young people. He also loathed the Radical Left. In fact, despite a flirtation with Buddhism, he never left his Catholic roots, though he was an alcoholic who apparently had a mystical, antinomian faith that wasn’t dogmatic.
Like Kerouac’s novel, ON THE ROAD has no clear plot line. The movie goes on and on and on. The movie isn’t thrilling, either, just scenes of sexual experimentation, drugs and driving. The acting is not the best at all. In fact, some of the key performances, especially Kristen Stewart’s, are bad. Some scenes depict the poetry and art of the time. This creates a stylistic aesthetic that’s probably the best aspect of the movie. All in all, ON THE ROAD will disappoint most discerning moviegoers, including those who might be interested in an adaptation of this famous, influential autobiographical novel.
ON THE ROAD portrays a strong humanist worldview with characters questioning their existence and experimenting with drugs. The movie is debauched and graphic. It does outline the themes of the so-called beatnik generation. However, like the novel, ON THE ROAD has no clear plotline. It just goes on and on and on. As a whole, therefore, the movie is hardly thrilling. Most moviegoers probably will stay away from ON THE ROAD, including those who might be interested in the subject.