Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley and Kirsten Stewart live it up in Jack Kerouac’s On The Road…
With the phrase ‘unfilmable novel’ finally becoming redundant, it’s no surprise to see Jack Kerouac’s seminal book about life during the beat generation make it to the big screen. Those who have read – or tried to read – Kerouac’s book will know how hard going it is. Still, On The Road works best when splashes of his prose are read aloud.
The main subject of the film is Sal Paradise (Sam Riley), his dictated memoirs playing as an aural accompaniment to the onscreen drama. However, Sal can’t compete with the (borderline bi-polar) antics of Dean Moriarty. Garrett Hedlund pours some much-needed life into the film courtesy of his beatnik wideboy. To say he’s a live wire doesn’t quite cut it – at times he’s kicking out enough energy to power a small town.
Kristen Stewart must have also relished the role of sexually liberated Marylou, sometime wife to Moriaty. Such a flirty character – dare we say slutty, certainly as slutty as Hedlund’s hedonist – must have seemed like just what the clap clinic doctor ordered following the coyness of Twilight. However, having this film out in the wild so soon after she cheated on RPattz will not endear her to the millions of girls in Team Edward baying for her blood.
In the end, there’ a desperation at the core of the film, its life-loving free spirits actually trapped in an empty, soulless existence. This is beautifully summed up when Dean tells Sal about one of his sexual exploits, the tale brimming with excitement to start with and ending in a teary-eyed realisation that something is missing.
Sadly all the beautiful language in On The Road can’t make up for a lack of character development that sees the leads repeat their self-destructive feats time and again. Extras unavailable.