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Revisionist treatment with pluses and minuses
aayoung15 July 2012
There are very few works of 20th-century American literature that can be called indispensable to our understanding of our culture. And one of these few is Jack Kerouac's On the Road. As everyone knows, it's the thinly-veiled autobiographical account of Kerouac and his friends in their pointless but exuberant adventures across America. For 50 years, it's been waiting to be made into a movie. Now, at last.

So, everyone already knows the story… well, no; chances are, if you're like me, you read the book and yet remember almost nothing of the story. The book burns through its shreds of storyline as if they were just tinder for the blaze of its energy; the real fuel is the pacing, even with all its redundancy. It's the momentum that sucks us into the breathless chaos of Kerouac's world. We come away impressed by the energy, not the content.

Film could certainly have been used to amplify this effect, but this is not that film. Instead, we have a more conventional treatment, focusing on character development. It's a nice production, with an attractive cast. But the story comes at us very differently from the book experience. The manuscript has been rewritten to add breathing space and objectivity. We see Sal Paradise, only half-formed at the start of the story, pull himself together to become a serious writer. We see the endlessly exuberant Dean Moriarity ultimately coming to grips with the progressive self- destruction attributable to his amorality, and suffering. This might be a fair reading of Kerouac's ultimate feelings about that part of his life, but it's not the feeling that Kerouac shares with us in the book. We have lost our innocence; our last chance to revisit it, even for a few hours, is taken away.

I'm not going to rage against this re-conception of the story, though, because it makes other changes from the book that might be improvements. Several episodes that were censored from the book are restored in the film. (Some discussion of this at http://www.univie.ac.at/Anglistik/easyrider/data/BeatEros.htm). So the movie is more historically accurate, and far more sexually explicit than the book. (That could also explain its delayed US release). In one poignant scene, Carlos Marx (Allen Ginsberg) is whining to Sal about how vulnerable he feels due to his poorly-returned love for Dean. To the best of my recollection, that conversation was not in the book (please tell me if you believe otherwise), but was expressed in a private letter from Ginsberg to Kerouac many years after the fact. This kind of thing changes the emotional flow of the story, certainly, but it adds depth, too.

Few of us will actually suffer nostalgia for the gritty overindulgences of the Beats. But remember, this came at a time when society was absolutely saturated with the message that everyone should be "normal," safe, predictable. Without the tiny minority of Beats attacking that message, and specifically without On The Road to chronicle that attack, the cultural revolution of the 1960's would have been even more difficult than it was, and perhaps less effective. Good, bad, or ugly, we must embrace this story.
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A joyless adaption of an exhilarating book
WirelessE28 October 2012
The On The Road novel has inspired numerous readers, myself included to take an American road trip. Will the film have the same effect? I sincerely doubt it. And herein lays the problem. Whilst the book takes the reader on an exuberant, spirited journey full of life, the film puzzlingly slows the pace right down and presents a muted, almost depressed version of the same story.

This is best illustrated by the presentation of the character of Dean Moriarty. He should be the driving force of the story, pushing the storyline on with his crazed excitement for the good and bad in life. On the printed page he can barely speak fast enough to get all his thoughts out. However in the film he huffs and puffs his way from one scene to the next, speaking in a laconic drawl, whilst lacking all the charm and charisma that is supposed to make him so alluring. He is the muse for the writer character of Sal, but anyone coming to the film fresh without having read the book, may well struggle to understand why.

The film lacks a rounded sense of the hedonistic side of the journey. The sex is arguably overplayed and whilst there is some drugs and jazz, there is little of the booze. Crucially the characters rarely seem to be having a good time. The film seems to focus on the melodramatic, miserable aspects of the characters lives at the destinations they travel to, but fails to contrast this with wild and exciting times spent on the road. The film does not convey a sense of travelling for the journeys sake; they always just seem to be in the car in order to get to another destination. The only time the film gets anywhere near the free spirited adventure of the book is when the characters reach Mexico in the later stages of the film, but this is too little too late.

I did wonder whether the muted atmosphere of the film was a deliberate ploy of the filmmakers, however the last ten minutes would indicate not. Here we see the character of Sal typing up the notes he has made during the road trips, seemingly franticly typing to capture all the wild, fun, crazy times had on the road. However this does not reflect what the viewer has just witnessed on screen for the past two hours.

Taken on its own terms the film does offer fine cinematography, costume and the look of the time, as well as some decent acting (hence my score of 5 out of 10). However as an adaption of a seminal piece of literature, it deserves to be judged against the source material and in not capturing the true spirit of the book, it is a big fail.
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On the road to nowhere
SteveMierzejewski15 October 2012
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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The spirit of the book is completely gone: a boring movie.
oudwest7729 May 2012
I will try to be as short as I can be in my review, but I am just very surprised about the very positive reviews on IMDb. For me this was another huge disappointment. yes there are great landscapes, the photography is nice and the actors surely are OK, the music is often inspiring, but even if the movie basically tells the same events as in the book, I found it pretty boring, and above all the spirit of the book, about freedom etc, was completely gone. Too many scenes are just taken inside hotels rooms, houses etc, isn't this movie entitled on the road? Again, regarding the spirit of freedom, in the book surely wasn't all about sex and multiple partners etc, because that's not at all the freedom Jack Kerouac was talking about when he wrote it, these components have been way too much highlighted. I am sorry but I left the cinema pretty disappointed, if we had to wait all these year for a version of the book, and this is the result, well it would have been better to only have the book.
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On the sideline waiting for On The Road.
merlin-jones7 April 2013
One of the aspects this film really lacked was an understanding of the zeitgeist of Beat America in the late forties and fifties of Post-World War Two America. The conservative middle class that Ronald Reagan defended was in full swing and there were those who did not fit in and did not know where to go, and this is where the Beats fit in. It was L seven heaven square land and people with creative vision didn't have the flavor for materialism. The idea in the mind was just as secure as house in the suburbs. Plus I saw no James Joycean stream of consciousness with the speed, booze and the jazz. Where was the poetry? You see people moving around, dancing, snapping fingers and being "hip" but no expression of what was going on within. The characters I saw were 21st century self-centered users, dopers, and boozers who could not afford a day of tasting wine in Napa Valley, so it's everyone else's fault. The most real character in the film that captures the sense of the time was Viggo Mortensen's Old Bull Lee/William S. Burroughs. That worked. Carlo Marx, the Ginsberg attempt should have been called Harpo Marx. I was howling at the idea that this was suppose to be the person that wrote Howl. The art direction and cinematography did keep me watching instead of leaving. But remember, it does say based on the book On The Road.
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The most epic failure
tim-k-diamond7 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The nutshell people, is this: the screenwriter, director and producer all fail to grasp the existential nature of Kerouac's writing which was, and still is, its whole point.

To get the novel you need to blur your focus slightly, think about the more esoteric and the context of the time of when it was written. Kerouac put forth his own personal spiritual reality and also that of the spiritual connection between himself and other characters without implying how he, or the reader, should be thinking or feeling which leaves the reader resonating with philosophical questions. Does anything mean anything? Does loving someone who doesn't return that love mean anything? What is love? Are we just pawns in a greater spiritual reality? Should we care? If so, why?

The book and these questions were part of a spark that started a shift towards youthful self-consciousness, greater questioning of western life and human realities that has endured to the present day.

This aspect of Kerouac's work is the quintessential element his admirers praise and respect him for and this movie fails completely to illustrate this most important part. In fact it seems as though it was not even attempted or omitted on purpose.

The movie also fails to illustrate the broader context of the time it was written as well: the concept of piercing through the two dimensional American cultural reality of the time and breaking through into a freer space, rebelling against the rules society has laid down for you and in turn sparking thoughts in people's minds of how the future could be one where minds were more open, standards were questioned and prejudices overcome. This same shift in thinking and questioning contemporaneous norms added fuel to the fires of the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti- War Movement. Kerouac was someone who helped spark a wave that reached its peak in the late 60s over a decade after the publishing of On The Road but disappointingly you will get none of this from the movie.

Instead, this movie stands for everything the book doesn't; a dressed up, soulless vacuum of a period piece that doesn't really go anywhere with any discernible purpose. It alienates the viewer within the first half dozen scenes instead of drawing them in with that friendly 'best- buddy-you-never-had' Kerouac familiarity.

Many people new to the Beats and to Kerouac will leave this movie feeling that they just don't get what all the fuss was about and that's because this movie goes nowhere near doing justice to either of these institutions.

For Kerouac 'true believers' (of which I am obviously one) who respect the importance of his work, this movie will be an affront as it is brought to the screen by people who were not capable of representing him or the work on screen.

For road trip fans this movie will hit most of the right buttons and therefore there will be some positive reviews as you see here.

My feeling is that regardless of previous achievements and my overwhelming respect for producer and director, the makers of this film should be ashamed of themselves in bringing this movie to the screen without capturing the soul of the book and the man who wrote it. You can only assume that they didn't get that aspect or chose to leave it out because it was too hard to realise. However, I simply cannot believe Coppola viewed this film in its entirety prior to release and Salles seems to have over-estimated his ability to turn this seminal, universal masterpiece into a movie. It simply just isn't worthy.
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Loved and hated it
maatje5129 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this movie yesterday in a art-house cinema. It's a lovely setting for this movie, small and intimate, I don't think big cinematic rooms with a 100 muttering teens won't do this movie any justice.

Before I start off, I haven't read the book so I won't judge on how well it's transfered to a script. To me, maybe because I haven't read the book the movie was quite difficult to follow as it felt that a true story line was missing. it was just a bunch of lost youngsters trying to find the essence of living a life. The whole movie felt like somebody was telling a story about how to make and loose friends in a split decision and how to ruin your life royally.

I absolutely loved Tom Sturridge. He plays this gay poet with so much depth and essence. You can see he really tries to feel what Carlo has felt.

I also think it was one of Kristen Stewart's best performances. the way her story flows through the movie is refreshing. You see Marylou grow and develop the realization that even with all the living, life filled with sex and drugs isn't full filling her needs and that she needs more. It's well played and Stewart just embodies the sexuality that is needed in this movie.

I loved Hedlund's performance... he was clear in his emotions. though I really didn't like the character, Hedlund made me feel sorry for him in the end.

I have to admit I was a bit disappointed by Riley's performance. I felt it lacked emotional dept at moments were I thought it had to be more. especially the moments he spend behind the typing machine or with his family.

Overall it was not my type of movie but a good choice if you want something different than the straight forward happy ending blockbusters...
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Booze, dope, girls, jazz, speeding and shoplifting
rubenm23 June 2012
Here's a confession: I've read the novel by Kerouac twice, but wasn't rally impressed. I could appreciate the sense of freedom and endless opportunities, and the effect this must have had on the generation of the fifties and sixties, but I also found the story tedious after the first few chapters.

So I was curious about the movie: would Walter Salles be able to turn this legendary but rather monotonous novel into a good film? The answer, unfortunately is: no. In short, the films shows a bunch of young people enjoying booze, dope, girls, jazz, speeding and shoplifting. They go from one city to another, but it doesn't really matter: wherever they are, they do the same things. After the first hour, you start to hope for some story development, but there is none. This is especially annoying because the movie goes on for more than two hours. In the end, it's just a repetition of the same themes in different settings.

The film follows the book rather scrupulously, and I think this is a wrong choice. The book needs more adaptation to make it suitable for the big screen. More than anything else, it needs a plot.

Of course, there are also positive things about the movie. It's a nice period film about the forties. The acting is fine, with good performances by Twilight-famed Kristen Stewart and especially Garrett Hedlund, a lesser known actor who could be quite a revelation.

This film will certainly not become as legendary in cinematography as the book has become in literature. But then again, that's almost impossible.
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It's Not bad, Considering How Hard an Adaptation it is
generationofswine12 October 2012
Hemingway was terrified of being boring. Compared to Hemingway, Kerouac was completely & utterly fearless.

So let's take a page out one of Kerouac's best books, start at the beginning, & let the truth seep out.

I first encountered "On the Road" in the public library when I was in 6th grade. It spawned a fascination, an obsession, an addiction. Between the age of 12 & 18, outside of school, the Beat writers were all that I read. I devoured them. And in the years since my youth Kerouac has morphed from an obsession to a comfort author, I read him to help cushion the blows life brings. "Maggie Cassidy," is still my favorite.

That being said, I walked into this flick with extremely low expectations. I'm more than familiar with the source material & couldn't see how it could translate into anything but a dull film. I expected the film to stagnate. I wasn't really disappointed in this. Anyone that has read "On the Road" has to question the wisdom of attempting to translate that into a decent movie.

Like the novel, there are parts of this film you just have to fight through in the hopes that he'll move off his love for grape picking & into something interesting again.

The plus side is, once you make it past the stagnation, the plot picks up again & you feel the sense of freedom having overcome the monotony of Kerouac. But on the other-hand, I'm fairly certain that's the point.

The bottom line is that if you are familiar with Travelin' Jack you know what to expect before you walk into the film & you walk out with an experience far better than you would have thought it's be. It's an enjoyable film.

However, if you're like most of the world & for some reason do not read, you'll be expecting the legend without understanding the reality & you will hate it, for no other reason than the lack of background necessary to expect Kerouac to be, well, Kerouac.
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The screenwriter misunderstood the characters, the most important aspects of the book, and the actors fell flat
magicalmanhattan9 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
1) The screenwriter did not understand the main characters of the book, especially Dean. He added poor quality dialogue. That dialogue was related to sexuality. At certain points in the film Dean described sex acts that he engaged in that were never mentioned in the book. He described them in a way that would have never come out of the character's mouth as Kerouac created him. This poor quality language destroyed the depth of the character within 60 or so seconds. The screenwriter put 90% of the focus on sex, and made a gay sex act happen, which never occurred in the book, apparently to get some gay sex on screen. He had Marylou give Dean and Sal hand jobs at the same time in the movie which never occurred in the book. The screenwriter took the shift off the very important things that "On the Road," is about. On the road is about America in the 1940's being a spiritual land of immense beauty and power. It is about how Sal, and even more so Dean were completely intoxicated by this spirituality and beauty. The story is about "it." One aspect of "it," was that Dean loved women very deeply and was crazy about them. The other aspect was to be intoxicated by every unusual character that Dean came across on the road. In the story Dean is wild, intoxicated on life, and grooving on the world including the people, the music, and his friend Sal all the time. This brings me to my second point.

2) The actor that played Dean was not able to catch this constant intense spiritual jazzy American fever at all. Therefore nothing was accomplished.

3) The book is really about this holy land of America. Sometimes there is an amazing tune that a songwriter needs to put words to, just so that the tune can get noticed. But the words are actually secondary. In a way Dean and Sal are almost secondary. They are a vehicle for traveling through every aspect of the mystical American landscape, its people, and its culture. The movie does not convey this most important aspect of "On the Road," effectively. To do so much more focus would have had to be put on people and places that Dean and Sal observe as they travel.

To conclude, once again, "On the Road," is about American spirituality. A kind of spirituality that miraculously could have occasionally been found by the wild and free youth of the time. The film failed to capture this, possibly because the screen writer did not understand what this American spirituality is. He did not understand the essence of "On the Road."
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Lots of anachronisms for one thing....
everydaydeco7 April 2013
I agree with the earlier review ..."..our last chance to revisit it, even for a few hours, is taken away..." Yep. I read the book soon after its publication and, like the above reviewer, only remember the intensity, the poetry. My memory is that there was no real story line. But wonderful evocations of crossing the country in the old Hudson, at night...something about the feeling of being in that capsule. Just one of the many quibbles I have with this movie is that it showed us the Hudson speeding across the screen from left to right...an exterior view. Nothing of the romance of being in the car as it hurtled along. Lots of scenes of Dean driving dangerously, but that tells us something about Dean...that isn't what the book was saying about being in the car.

Okay. Anyway..anachronisms...

I graduated high school in 1957. I remember the hair cuts for girls...I was one of them. Marylou did not wear the cut shown in the movie. No long layers. Long hair , yes, but not long layers. That's very contemporary...It's distracting. Ever hear of "pin curls?"

Restaurant servers did not start saying "Enjoy" until at least the 90's. Remember the carefully recreated restaurant toward the end of the movie...the middle aged, somewhat overweight waitress in the red uniform? Never would she have said "enjoy."

I think some of the cars seen rushing from one side of the screen to the other in the early part of the movie were not available in the late 40's. Looked like Chevys from about 1953.

So much was carefully done...the paint peeling in the old Victorians when Victorians were low rent...yes! That very restaurant mentioned above.

Come on, there are lots of us still living. Hire a consultant next time.
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The only people who interest me are the mad ones
Sheldon_Cooper_PHD26 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
What a brilliant adaptation!

The very beginning of the movie sets the tone, and shows Kerouac walking, and walking, different locations.

From this very beginning, Walter Salles captures the essence itself of Kerouac's work.

He may not stick to every passage of it, which would probably prove quite tedious to follow in a movie, yet he keeps what is necessary, the essence, the purpose of it all. Living fully, enjoying life to its fullest.

Sam Riley as Jack Kerouac is incredible, a raspy voice, gleeful, mischievous, eyes full of sparkle, he makes it entirely believable, and is highly likable.

Garrett Hedlund, a very talented actor (as he has proved it in Death Sentence, Four Brothers) shines bright as Neal Cassady, full of charisma, virility, and true madness. There is a fantastic energy absolutely suited to the character, a very difficult character to portray, a madman.

Hedlund is an absolute standout and is both riveting and heartbreaking, notably so at the end of the movie.

Kristen Stewart is glowing, both beautiful and highly sensual (very torrid scenes showcase this), she proves something that most people seem to have forgotten with the Twilight series, that she is extremely talented.

Tom Sturridge is impressive as Allen Gisberg, both vulnerable and crazy in a sense.

The cinematography is outstanding, and it is a sight to behold, beautiful landscapes, a smooth, delicate filmic texture.

This movie will divide, whether people appreciate the book, or they don't.

It leaves a mark on me, it goes to my heart, as the book did.

As Jack repeats those last words "I think of Dean Moriarty, I think of Dean Moriarty", intertwined with Neal looking afar, tears running down, my heart sinks, riveted as I am, as if paralyzed by those last words, my eyes fixated on the screen, I can't move because I think of Dean Moriarty, I think of Neal Cassady.
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This was crap!
livingthefilmlife19 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The only reason I use my time to write this review is to save others the hours in their lives of watching it. Every black out is a prayer for the end. If I were not a true film watcher with the single vow never to fall asleep in a film I would have been out like a light from the first words. It's long with no meaning or plot with not storyline or even a good script. It does not show any true nature of rebellion as this would have been considered but shows It as the norm of those days which is not true. Any proper film watcher knows that if timeout likes a film and give it a good review then it probably deserves to be thrown away and buried. Here is your challenge, try and stay awake and interested throughout the whole film!
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Bad reviews everywhere for a perfect film
coiffuremixte8 June 2012
Walter Salles has made another beautiful, captivating, moving film. 'On The Road' is a close adaptation of Kerouac's famous novel which came to define the beat movement. Sticking to the fictional character names of Dean Moriarty and Sal Paradise (this feels historically faithful as these are the names used in the book up until a recent re-edition of the original text) we follow Sal's attempts to find 'it' in his travels across America, and through his relationships, and his attempts to write a meaningful work of art. Sam Riley is brilliant in the central role; natural, sympathetic, captivating. All the other actors are excellent. What is the real strength of this film is the unpretentious film-making which resists drawing attention to the wealth of talent involved in making it, is it perhaps the perfection of this film which has tempted reviewers to pick holes or invent flaws, like a true beauty it is sometimes hard for others to resist trying to destroy or defile it? Cinema magic is rare, shame people have trouble recognizing it when they have it in front of them.
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Sex, Drugs & Jazz
karmacoupe21 August 2012
"On The Road" is only the skeleton this film is fleshed out around. It is not simply the novel made into a movie. Director Walter Salles WAY expanded it. For starters, he used the scroll, not the '57 edition as the working blueprint. And a ton of the movie came from Neal, Jack & Allen's letters, Carolyn's book, the LuAnne interview, Jack's audio recordings … in other words, there's a lot of stuff that's not in the novel. But it's all based on accounts, not solely Jack's account as told in that one book, scroll or not.

It's not the novel On The Road as a linear film. It's an interpretation based strongly ON that novel, but it ain't a literal filming of the storyline. It's a work of art, its own work of art, a new work of art based on an old work of art.

There's lots of cool things about it. I don't want to "spoil" it for you, but many of the specific scenes in the novel that always stood out for me are in the film. And since it's so non-linear, you don't know what's coming next. And it's, "Oh wow! It's this scene! No way!" It's so funny-cool that way. Something that Jack might spend a few paragraphs on in a 300-page novel could be 3 minutes of the 137 minute movie. And things he might cover over 20 pages aren't included at all. It's kind of a series of choice scenes portrayed.

And the cameos by Terrence Howard and Steve Buscemi are to die for! That two of my favorite actors are in this in such weird and wonderful ways is just great.

And Viggo as Bill! Holy heck! Maybe the best part of the film.

And the music is GREAT. Yer gonna love it if ya love it.

There's loads of problems, big and small, but I'm not gonna mention 'em cuz maybe you won't even notice 'em. It's its own work of art, its own statement, its own piece. It's new and different and will stand (or fall) on its own. But the movie of "On The Road" now exists. And here it is — 2 hours and 17 minutes. It's more large than small. It's more new than old. It's more timeless than dated.

How this is gonna play for other people will be interesting to see.

There's gonna be the Beat world's reaction, and then the non-Beat world's. Beat people in general are gonna like it — cuz it's On The Road and so much more. People who have only read the one book and have it emblazoned in their brains may have trouble with how it's been expanded, or edited by the limitations of the medium. I have no idea how non-Beat-familiar people will respond. Not a clue. I think if you were predisposed this way, you'd already be there.

Oh, and there's a whole lotta sex in it. The things that are said and the things that are shown, for The Puritanical American Rating System, this is gonna be an "R" fer sure. I mean, there's hand-jobs, oral, gay, straight, three-ways, you name it — and f-bombs, which actually were not in the casual vernacular of the time the way they're used in this film, and certainly not in the novel. This is definitely an adult movie. Which, if you know your On The Road, was a very G-rated book, other than the subject — the sex is all off-page, and the language is clean. The movie — not so much.

I look forward to experiencing this many more times, under many different circumstances, in many different mindframes, with many different people, and how it'll continue to reveal new colors and angles with each new Road adventure. It's a memorable, expansive dramatization. It's a helluva party condensed into 2 hours. It's a road trip with old friends to familiar places. But you better leave the book at home and be ready for anything.
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What a load of sh*t
felliott-133-634129 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I had high hopes for this film, which were quickly quashed four scenes later, when not a thing had happened.

I think that it was a real shame, as the art direction was great, the camera work was interesting and pleasing, and the acting was really great. A particularly great performance from Garrett Hedlund as Dean. I don't think any of the actors can be blamed for the poor film that it was. What is to blame, in my opinion, was the script, direction and editing. It did not have a plot, or direction, and seemed to make no point. It was a series of scenes showing off how 'cool' these writers were, and how pretentious the filmmakers could be without making any real point.

The thing that I disliked most about this movie was that nothing but the costumes and sets reflecting the 1950s. The characters spoke as if they were in the 2000's, were open about sex, homosexuality, drugs and race. They seemed to face no repression or hardship whatsoever, they were living in the great depression, yet all they did was drink, party, do drugs, sleep with women and write. I found it very difficult how the characters talked constantly about how bad their lives were, how they wanted to die and were living in a society that was horrible. I saw none of this!!! Their lives seemed wonderful, partying with friends, writing and traveling around America with the ease of popping into any passing car and meeting an array of interesting and friendly people.

What was amazing about the true story of these writers was that they were emerging from a society of repression, they were the first intellectual writers emerging from an uneducated society due to the depression. They were opening up to the 50s as a modern generation, the first beat poets. However the writers within this movie faced no repression, the only hardship was money – but even money issues seemed to be solved, finding work a couple of days later. And the main character could even return to his mother if things got too bad.

The people they met were filthy, with clothes that looked old enough to be falling off them – yet they lived in houses with huge expanses of rooms, candles and fantastic ornaments, in even greater locations. I found myself saying, why not just have a shower and wash your clothes in one of your 5 bathrooms?

Although the reason for my issues with this film is its unrealisticness, the reason that I hated the film was because it had no plot. Now I am fine with movies that have no plot, but they need to say something, about ANYTHING. This movie was about a group of young writers who were trying to gather enough experiences to write a novel, but at the end of the film I found myself thinking – why was I involved in that? What did they want to say? Was there any point to what I just watched?

It went for two and a half hours, one hour easily could have been left on the cutting room floor. Don't even get me started on the useless character of a third chubby male who travelled with them and seemed to serve no point, and a elongated series of scenes at a house of two heroin addicts who had no real relevance to the story. It was self indulgent, pretentious and had no idea what its own reason for existence was. You just need to look at poster after watching the film to see that the filmmakers don't know what point they are trying to make. What a useless load of sh*t.
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Painfully boring
brunettewarrior16 January 2015
I give this film 3 out of 10 stars because I was extremely bored with the subject matter of the film. It felt like it would never ever end. It was a constant cacophony of meaningless conversations. I could not connect to any of the characters. The protagonist played by Riley was likable enough, but the whole ensemble felt like they lacked depth. Having never fully read the novel because I felt the same painful boredom from it, I'm not really sure if the characters are meant to have any depth or if they represent any particular archetypes. I can say I felt absolute nothing during my viewing of this film and it is a shame. I am a fan of Hedlund.
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A great adaptation of the Jack Kerouac's classic novel
bRAdY-0124 May 2012
Watched at the Cannes Film Festival. For a young audience jaded and sick of a seemingly constant avalanche of super hero and action block buster no-brainer movies this film will shine like a refreshing breath of much desired escapism in times of depression and high unemployment. Though having made previously multi-awards winning films and having worked with some amazing actors in the past, Walter Salles finally has been allowed to work with some the hottest young Hollywood stars, this will surely really hit pay-dirt for him and open up his work to a whole new generation and market, with film enjoying a much wider release, transcending the usual art-house cinema's he has previously been limited to. The film will appeal both to the large demographic audience of teen film goers but also an older generation of book readers curious to see how one of the most inspirational novels of their teens turns out now that it has finally hit the screens over half a century since it's first release. The film seems part biopic as it departs often from the book, young audiences will easily connect and relate to mind-set of Kerouac as they are given insight into one of America's legendary free-spirits that pre-dated "Generation X" and the much earlier Easy Rider generation by decades. Whilst Kirsten Stewart will draw a large teen audience following for the Twilight Saga movie franchise, Riley for his stand-out award winning art-house performances, it will be the scenes of drug taking, sexual experimentation, visuals of haunting beautifully shots landscapes and a sense of escapism that will all have a massive teen audience appeal, but most memorable of all will be Garrett Hedlund star in the making, charismatic scene stealing performance that will be prominent in reviews, garner excellent word-of-mouth and leave an indelible mark.
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While the cinematography and acting are good, the overall spirit of On The Road is missing.
ink-diamonds11 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I consider On the Road to be one of the greatest books ever written so I guess it's not surprising when I say that overall the film let me down. There were some parts during which I felt it did the text justice. The very end scene with Sal and Dean standing together for the last time. The underlining sadness of Sal, and Dean's, and Marylou's arrival to San Francisco. Tom Sturridge's portrayal of Carlo Marx, especially his relationship with Dean and of course Gerett Hedlund's madness as he played Dean Moriarty, which was possibly the best part of the entire production.

However there were also a lot of moments where I felt the director did not get it quite right. I was disappointed with how little there was of Sal's story on the road before he travelled with Dean and Marylou. I understood they were probably going to leave out most of the beginning of his journey but I really wanted to see the scenes with Terry longer and more developed. When I read to book there was something about that time he spent with her that was both tragic and beautiful at the same time, yet none of that made it into the film. Old Bull Lee's character felt grossly undeveloped. The man had this incredible presence in the book and it just felt to me as if the director did not consider him important at all. This is not to say that Viggo Mortensen did not play him well, he did. My issue here is more with the script writing and direction.

However, the one thing that I missed the most from the film was the underlining presence of the whole book, the feeling of searching for something. It felt as if the film was two-dimensional, rarely bringing out those feelings. There were some instances when it did, for example the last scenes in and following Mexico, Marylou's arrival in Frisco and Carlo's feelings about Dean, but overall the feeling was generally missing.

I consider On the Road to be a good film but it wasn't the amazing production expected. I know a lot of people interpret the book in different ways so my views on it may differ from other's, and other's views on the film. This is simply my opinion.
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Three scenes on repeat
martpoul6 October 2012
My hopes were high for this movie. With a cast like that and being an adaptation of one of the previous century's most famous books it can't be all bad, I thought. How wrong I was. All right, the film is not completely rubbish, the cinematography and the acting is good and sometimes even brilliant. That said the movie is still a waste of two and a half long hours and yes indeed those two and a half hours feels like three long days.

Despite the decent performances by the actors none of the characters are ever allowed to evolve. We never get a sense of how they are as persons or what they have at stake. There's nothing that makes the viewer care about the characters, except maybe for Dean Moriaty in the end. Here we get a glimpse of why he's so messed up but it in the last five minutes of the movie.

All the other characters are portrayed very superficial, especially the women who are all portrayed as extreme stereotypes of distressed women, all the characters do is discuss on a quasi intellectual level, then have wild and crazy sex, which after you've seen it for the 117. time seems dull, and then they go their separate ways for no apparent reason.

Then a new character is introduced, then another and then yet another. Most characters are on screen for less than five minutes which of course means that you as viewer don't get to care about them at all.

For instance Viggo Mortensens character. Viggo Mortensen is on the poster for the movie for crying out loud but he is in the movie in three short scenes and nobody knows why the hell is in the movie. But oh, gone he is and on to the next chapter with a similar character doing similar things.

After an hour I felt I was dying inside. After two and a half hours in the company of this repetitious movie I felt like I had been in Guantanamo prison for a year.
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Well made and well staged, but also pretty flat...movie almost lacks the wonderful energy of the book!
mbs2 April 2013
I loved the book enormously when i read it a couple years back. I shot through it in two days and just thought it was a fantastic read with an incredibly high energy feel to it. (Its almost like the reading equivalent of several cups of coffee) The film by contrast doesn't have any of that specific wired high energy feel to it, in fact i thought the film kind of saps some of the energy from the story by trying to place it all in the context of a story that has to have a beginning, middle, and end. I get that any adaptation of this was going to have to do some reconfiguring just because any movie is going to need to have a story with a clear through line for people who aren't familiar with the book to understand and that's OK, but at the same time it kind of takes away some of the amazing strength of the book. In fact it kind of reminded me of the Robert Redford 70's version of "the Great Gatsby" in that while faithfully recreating the scenes from the book, they kind of forgot to infuse the film with the lively energy that their source material had in spades! Enough about that tho because as a film "On The Road" is solidly enjoyable enough and pretty well made as a film that its hard not to like it in general. I did in fact watch virtually the entire movie with a huge smile on my face because i enjoyed in no small measure the staging of certain scenes from the book, as well as catching certain lines that i remembered vividly from the book but not until hearing them spoken in the film did i think about how great it was that the screenwriter and director thought to include them.

The film itself to me even gets better in retrospect because at first i didn't particularly like either Sam Rielley or Garret Hedlund as Sal or Dean. Thought they were both entirely miscast, but in truth as the film went on it was a lot easier to accept them as the characters if only because i think i had such a specific type in mind for both characters--Sal should have been less grizzled, more naive...and Dean should have been way more manic and charming instead of the fairly low key but very affable man. (i feel like maybe James Franco would've been a good choice for this cause he can definitely do both manic and depressed.) Even that i understand that you can't overdo Dean Moriarty because then you run the risk of going too far and having him not be believable as someone who could easily charm this entire group of people, but again as the film goes on, and the scenes go by--it becomes a lot easier to accept the two actors as Sal and Dean. I feel like that's actually true of the film as a whole too. It kind of starts out with a whole i don't know about this kind of vibe and it quickly wins you over because of the confident way the scenes from the book are put across. I really do feel like Walter Salles properly caught the spirit and underlying sadness of the book but didn't quite capture the mad passionate high energy level that makes the book such an intoxicating read. While that initially came to me as disappointment i got to admit that the film (much like the book its based on) grew on me as i was watching it, and if the film can't be exactly like the book, its at least a fair to solid enough interpretation of the book's characters and events that i can gladly accept and enjoy it on its own merits. (The fact that its also beautifully filmed and has a great accompanying soundtrack help enormously!)
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Annoying and irritating...
darren-153-89081015 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I really struggled with this film, from the opening scene to the end.

I haven't read the book neither am I aware of it. So I went with a complete open mind. However, you would have thought a film about a road trip would actually make you want to go on one. This actually did the opposite for me.

The fact that I find jazz to be the most annoying genre of music didn't really help the cause. In fact, the characters were highly irritating too. The only character with any likability was Kristen Stewarts.

It's one of those films where you don't really give a toss what happens or who is happens too.
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Sparse and disjointed, not at all like the book, made for TV , watered-down, sterilized, pop-art depiction of a classic!
aidanpaulmcnally29 October 2012
I despair to think that people who watch this movie will think that it is in any way representative of the book, because it simply is not.

(Please, please read 'On the Road' and follow that by reading 'Junky' by Burroughs, they are life-changing books).

The film is not, in one iota, representative of the book! It is lifeless, has no spirit, dilutes and disinfects, sterilizes for mass consumption one of the most important books of the 20th century and of American literature! In one word, the treatment of the book is irresponsible.

There is no time spent on one of the most important aspects of the book - the flowing prose style that Kerouac employed to truly engage the reader and bring them into his world and the pace at which he felt he, and the time, was moving. Very important parts of the book are brushed over, and the parts that remain are not recreated effectively.

I don't have time to list the many ways in which the creators of this movie just simply did not "get it".

If I did not know better, watching this movie I would assume that the people behind the movie hadn't even read the book, and if they had read it, they had not understood it in the slightest.

However, I am sure Hollywood played a part in removing the soul of the movie because they were afraid the mass audience wouldn't understand or be interested in it. Of course they would! Read the book you hacks!
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Long ordeal
blogurious22 June 2012
As much as the novel may have successfully depicted the adventures of a lost generation, bringing the story to the big screen didn't seem like a good idea to me.

"On the Road" is a very understandably long movie, due to the many sides of every single character and their dysfunctional personality. And in spite of Walter Salles' proved talent, the experience turned out to be a dreadful journey. Everything is so boring that, although each character has a strong image and existence, following each one is a painful ordeal. The movie is extremely slow and yawn-inspirational. The interesting cast is a mixture of new and old faces that, when joined together, don't seem to leave an impressive mark. I may sound a tad pessimistic but the truth is that I couldn't wait to get out of the screening room. Incredibly boring and not so amazing as the book. I guess some stories are simply meant to be read.
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Total Garbage!!!
plon315 January 2013
This movie has no point, it has no meaning, it has no conclusions or answers. It doesn't even ask us any questions!

It is not alternative, artistic, poetic or visually appealing. It offers absolutely nothing! It is a complete and utter waste of time!

The story line is dull and dreary, the character development is slow, uninteresting, unrealistic and depressing. The road trips are uneventful, vague and meaningless.

This movie could have ended at anytime or at any point and it would not have made any difference.

In short, the move is total garbage! It would have been far more productive to watch paint dry or grass grow, at least these activities have a purpose and conclusion!
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