On the Road is a 2012 French-Bristish-Brazillian adventure drama film that was directed by Walter Salles. It is an adaptation of the 1957 novel of the same name written by Jack Kerouac. The film has several notable names like Kirsten Dunst and Amy Adams, but focuses primarily on Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart, and Tom Sturridge.
The story is based around the years Kerouac spent traveling the United States in the late 1940s with his friends. Sal Paradise is a struggling writer that’s looking for inspiration. His father has just died, and after a visit to his grave, he decides to join his friends on the road. From there, the film advances without much in the way of a linear path, and we begin to see more about the characters, particularly Dean Moriarty.
I remembered hearing about this film a while back, but I never paid it much attention. I saw one or two of the trailers, but considering it took me two years after its release to find it, none of it was very impressionable. However, while looking through a list of IFC Films, I found it once more and decided to watch it. They have an interesting track-record for me. I didn’t care for Antiviral, Heartless was interesting, and I particularly liked Maniac, Shadow and Sightseers. I figured that they had more hits than misses at this point.
The film has a run-time of two-hours and seventeen minutes, and with the nonlinear, short-winded scenes, it certainly felt like that amount of time. Saying that something is nonlinear doesn’t have to be an insult, look at something like Pulp Fiction for instance. Unfortunately, On the Road is particularly up to task to do justice to that comparison.
On the Road is a long and bloated movie, but more importantly, it doesn’t feel as if it knows exactly what it’s trying to say. This is speaking for more than merely the storytelling, but such inconsistency with the actors in their roles. There were moments when they were sad, a lot, and times when I felt like it seemed abrupt and misplaced. Moments of sentiment that didn’t mean anything because they weren’t made to mean anything. Garrett Hedlund and Sam Riley do very well in their performances. They weren’t bad, and they really seemed like they had some heart and emotion in their performances. The Dean Moriarty character was one of the small silver-lining’s to this film.
Dean is an intriguing character to witness. He has an insatiable desire that he can’t seem to control, as well as a compulsive need for chaos. It legitimately seems like the character can’t help it. I mean, he seems like a terrible person, but there certain moments where it’s easy to feel sympathy for him. Other-wise, there wasn’t really any other actors worth noting, at least in terms of their performances in this film.
Visually, the film looks very nice, they did very well with the camerawork and cinematography, if nothing else, it looks good. The concepts could have worked, but it wasn’t on the cards. The film feels too long, too cluttered, and too inconsistent with everything that is trying to get across. You can feel the ambition behind it, and if you overlook the directionless aspects, there’s a very interesting character in Dean.
In conclusion, I had trouble staying awake for most of the moments in this movie. That isn’t meant as a stab, but meant more as a realistic description for my experience. It felt long, allover the place, and for every good moment, there was three or four moments of nothingness to follow.
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