(2013)

Critic Reviews

49

Metascore

Based on 14 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
70
Filming a truly immersive and dimensional adaptation of a Kerouac novel remains an ongoing challenge for any filmmaker, but Polish’s film comes closer than most, while adding another layer of complexity to the author’s venerable reputation.
70
Michael Polish’s Big Sur offers an elegantly muted take on the midlife ennui of Kerouac’s autobiographical 1962 novel.
63
A beautiful and sometimes affecting film that (appropriately, some would say) has as much difficulty connecting with the world before it as its protagonist does.
50
Nobody’s given the opportunity to do much more than brood prettily and occasionally shout carpe diembromides into the pounding surf.
50
Some of the performances -- Mitchell, Fischler and especially Lucas -- are lively, but Barr never gets under Kerouac's skin to show the pain of an artist who can't hold his life together. It's a tragedy, played entirely on the surface.
40
Village Voice
Not exactly a hagiography, Polish's film isn't a tragedy, either -- it's just an uneventful afternoon spent with a dozing rummy.
38
Slant Magazine
The viewer is informed of a world of chaos, obsession, and irresolution, but has no cinematic means of accessing or understanding it.
30
The Dissolve
Despite the parade of pretty images and lovely scenery, Big Sur stubbornly fails to cohere into a real movie; instead, it feels like an illustrated novel full of words, ideas, and images, but devoid of structure or characterization.
25
The film has a restless, nomadic quality similar to Kerouac’s lifestyle, but there’s no there there.
20
Edited to ribbons so that every peripheral player — Kate Bosworth, Radha Mitchell, Josh Lucas, Henry Thomas — is even more one-dimensional than Kerouac himself, it’s a work that accurately expresses the awfulness of narcissistic self-destruction, and nothing else.

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