(2013)

Critic Reviews

49

Metascore

Based on 14 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
80
The New York Times
Filmed without a trace of sentimentality, Big Sur is an achingly sad last hurrah.
75
Big Sur rises and fades, shifts and moves, through movements and melodies, singing a beautifully sad song for an era and a man who lost his way.
70
Michael Polish's Big Sur offers an elegantly muted take on the midlife ennui of Kerouac's autobiographical 1962 novel.
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
Although no less fawning and indulgent about its self-centered subject, played by Jean-Marc Barr (who also narrates, run-on style), the muted emptiness of the ill-fated sojourn wills its way toward something like existential meaningfulness.
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.
40
Not exactly a hagiography, Polish's film isn't a tragedy, either -- it's just an uneventful afternoon spent with a dozing rummy.
40
But with Kerouac declaring that “the only thing that matters is the conceptions in my own mind,” we're still left waiting for the filmmaker who can take us there.
38
The viewer is informed of a world of chaos, obsession, and irresolution, but has no cinematic means of accessing or understanding it.
30
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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