Sunday, February 24, 2013

On the Road: Movie Review


Disappointing trip to the Beat Generation with drugs, sex and emptiness.
On the Road is an adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s novel, which in turn, is an autobiographic written tale of Kerouac and friends, the fellow Beat writers; scattered but stylish. Life would speed up with drugs and alcohol, slow down for a night with a beautiful woman, speed up when it was time to hit the road again, and slow down as they fail to find themselves where they thought they would be. 2012

Directed by: Walter Salles

Screenplay by: Jose Rivera
Based on the novel by Jack Kerouac

Starring: Sam Riley, Garret Hedlund, Kristen Stewart and Tom Sturridge

Sam Riley in On the Road, an Alliance Films release. Photo Credit: Gregory Smith.
Sal Paradise (Sam Riley) was a writer. He was pretty confidant in his abilities to turn life into words, but when the words didn’t come, it just meant more life needed to be lived. This is where his friends came in handy. Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund) always had the sexiest drugs on hand and the easiest women in the other room. Whatever was needed, Dean would have the answer.

I tend to agree with that. I always found myself waiting for the next Garret Hedlund scenes. As empty as Dean’s life was, he had this magnetic energy which at least made the film entertaining at times. Dean had an inability to see what was wrong with his life, or how to express himself (he did say he wanted to learn how to write like Sal, but that was just something he said). Once he got tired of his current girl, he’d hit the road to hook up with the next one. The beats do have a reputation of living a very hedonistic lifestyle. The film played that up without offering much substance in return.
Kristen Stewart in On the Road, an Alliance Films release. Photo Credit: Gregory Smith.
Sam Riley in On the Road, an Alliance Films release. Photo Credit: Gregory Smith.
Sal at least knew his life was empty. The film is essentially him trying to find himself. Unfortunately, that’s also exactly how the film fails. Life for these bohemian hedonists included drugs, a little bit of jazz and a lot of sex, heterosexuality and homosexuality, and that was about it. There just seemed to be no point. We meandered from city to city with them, becoming more and more immersed in their superficial lifestyle, moving further and further away from a meaningful or interesting story. They had wives, and they were even played by notable actresses like Amy Adams and Elisabeth Moss, but they had nothing to do because these guys didn't care about their wives.

On the Road is really just a disappointing trip to the Beat Generation of writers. I was really hoping that they had something to say, but apparently they were too busy getting high, drowning their sorrows in alcohol, or just leaving their troubled lives with their maligned wives.