Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Tom Sturridge, Danny Morgan, Alice Braga, Elisabeth Moss, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Steve Buscemi, Terrence Howard, Marie-Ginette Guay
Written by: Jose Rivera, based on a book by Jack Kerouac
Directed by: Walter Salles
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, drug use and language
Running Time: 124
Date: 23/05/2012
IMDB

On the Road (2012)

2 Stars (out of 4)

'Road' Weary

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

It's hard to imagine how such an exciting book became such a boring movie, especially since producer Francis Ford Coppola has been trying to make it since 1979. 

To start, Walter Salles may have been a very bad choice as director. His only previous outing dealing with rebellious youth on the road was the polite, picture-postcard The Motorcycle Diaries, which reduced the volatile Che Guevara to a button-cute romantic lead. This time, Salles plies on the sex and drugs -- in addition to a grungy, handheld visual style -- perhaps in the vain hope that his movie will seem edgy, but at its core, it's lifeless and passive. 

Young writer Sal Paradise (Sam Riley) meets free spirit Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund) and begins a life of adventure on the road. He also meets Dean's girlfriend Marylou (Kristen Stewart) and many other beautiful women (Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams) as well as other talented writers Carlo Marx (Tom Sturridge) and Bill Lee (Viggo Mortensen). He falls in love, works manual labor jobs, writes, drinks, smokes pot, has sex, and hits the road again. Dean disappears from his life and returns months (or years) later. At the end of it all, Sal believes he has experienced something close to life.

The main character few active moments are cut short, and it becomes clear that he is simply observing everything as it passes by. The observed characters never spring to life; we never see their point of view. The only burst of life in the movie is Viggo Mortensen's frighteningly good bit part as "Old Bull Lee," a.k.a. William S. Burroughs.
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