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
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 »
For the record, I'm a big Kerouac fan. However, I don't think On the Road was his best work. I like his later, more introspective writing, but I know I'm in the minority here. There's a good reason why we had to wait so long for a screen version of On the Road. Impossible as it may be to believe, some novels are not written with potential movie rights in mind. On the Road is a sometimes rambling, stream of consciousness, string of vignettes without a clear goal in mind. It is a novel about hedonistic-death-driving on America's highways in a quest for life and a run from it. For the members of Kerouac's (Sal Paradise's) group, life is controlled self-destruction because death is preferable to boredom. These attitudes spring from the times in which the reality of potential nuclear disaster hung over the nation and the attitudes so induced found expression in youth who turned the directionlessness of life into life for the moment.
Making a film on such a book requires selection. Kerouac's hedonistic rampage across America, as selected by director Walter Salles, looks more mindless and sex-spiced than it did in the novel. Kerouac, as we see in his later works, was a hedonist with a conscience; a deadly combination which likely led to him drinking himself to death. Director Salles sees what he wants to see, a sex-crazed, drug-crazed, two-dimensional man. If this was truly the man represented in the novel, the novel would not have had the enduring quality that has made it literature.
I liked the way the 1950s was captured in the film. It was as close to perfection as you could get. The importance of jazz with its improvisation mirrors the lives of the travelers. The acting is good but the interaction is not. Maybe that was the point. There is no need for interaction in an age when the highest morality was based on selfishness. The movie may be okay to watch once, but I would prefer not to go down this road again.
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