Young writer Sal Paradise has his life shaken by the arrival of free-spirited Dean Moriarty and his girl, Marylou. As they travel across the country, they encounter a mix of people who each impact their journey indelibly.
Shaken by the death of his father and discouraged by his stalled career, writer Sal Paradise goes on a road trip hoping for inspiration. While traveling, he is befriended by charismatic and fearless Dean Moriarty and Moriarty's free-spirited and seductive young wife, Marylou. Traveling across the American southwest together, they strive to break from conformity and and search the unknown, and their decisions change the very course of their lives.Written by
Johnny Depp turned down the role of Sal Paradise when the film was in early development in the early 90s. See more »
In the opening scenes, Sal Paradise hitches a ride on the old farm truck. The large, round hay and straw bales in the background weren't available until 1972, when Vermeer built and sold the model 605 baler. Even then, the bales were much smaller and looser until the late '70s or early '80s on United States farms. See more »
This is the first time actual sex has been part of my relationship with a man. And this is how you love.
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The film was re-edited for North American release following its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and its French theatrical release because, according to director Walter Salles, that version was "rushed". The new cut is thirteen minutes shorter but contains more scenes and Salles says he has no preference between the two. See more »
It's the late 1940s, and young writer Sal Paradise's father has just died. He hangs out with friends in bars and struggles with writers' block. But when he meets charismatic Dean, Sal decides to follow his new friend's lead and take to the road on a cross-country trip across America.
Let's start with the good, shall we? The supporting cast are excellent, and special mention should be given to Tom Sturridge. He plays Carlo (Allen Ginsberg's alter ego), who spends much of the film intensely brooding over his broken heart, his writing, his wild ambitions. A quiet scene in which he tries to articulate his feelings towards Dean is one of my favourite in the whole film. Elisabeth Moss and Amy Adams also have blink-and-you-miss-it supporting roles, and they both easily outshine their higher-billed co-stars.
Unfortunately, that's about all the praise I can muster.
We are informed, time and time again, that Dean is charismatic, charming, infectiously reckless and dangerous and sexy. Sal, Carlo and Marylou can't get enough of him. He makes their lives better, more complete, more exciting. And yet Hedlund, for whatever reason, completely fails to shine on the screen. Good looking, yes, but charming he is not.
Reading the film's trivia page, previous attempted adaptations of Kerouac's book had the likes of Marlon Brando and Brad Pitt in mind to play the role of Dean. It makes me disappointed, embarrassed and slightly angry that the film's producers, in their search for our generation's equivalent to Brando and Pitt, settled on Garrett Hedlund. Was there really no one else available? What about Aaron Taylor-Johnson? Or Sam Claflin? Or Miles Teller, maybe? Or anyone who actually manages to make beautiful lines of prose sound more exciting than the phonebook? Objections have also been raised about some of the other main cast members, but although none of them - with the exception of Sturridge - lit the screen alight, none of them ruined the film either.
But of course, this film was always going to disappoint. It was always going to disappoint because it was built on a shaky foundation. The film's underlying problem, the problem that was always going to be a problem even if everything else was perfect, was what the script isn't good enough.
Any film worth watching tells you what its characters want. It's a character's pursuit of his/her personal goal that drives the whole plot. There was no sense here that the characters wanted anything in particular. There was talk of writing, but only in passing, as a way to spark a conversation in between drags of a joint. The characters talked, and laughed, and drank, and danced and travelled. But none of it really mattered because, in the end, none of them really changed.
I'm aware, of course, that Kerouac's book is a much-loved piece of literature, which leads me to conclude that it must be much, much better than this film. If that's the case, then fine. Read the book. Love the book. But it's not enough to trust that an audience's love for a story told in one medium will necessarily transfer into a love for the story in a different medium. The film feels like it relies too heavily on people knowing - and liking - the characters of the book, and in doing so fails to deliver an adaptation worthy of its source material.
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