Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Tom Sturridge, Danny Morgan, Alice Braga, Elisabeth Moss, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Steve Buscemi, Terrence Howard and Marie-Ginette Guay.
On the Road is a movie based on the classic cult novel from Jack Kerouac. The book is said to be "unfilmable" which proves why it got so many years and decades to bring it on-screen. I watched this movie with a curious eye a month back and while it was nice to visit the "beat" generation, i was very disappointed. On the Road, the movie, takes the meaning of its name often too seriously as the movie just goes on and on without a proper direction. Beat is suppose to be wild, energetic, crazy, sexy, jazzy, dizzy, dangerous and uncertain but the movie never truly reaches the wildness it needs but rather it plays in a very safe way. I haven't read the book but from what i have heard, this adaptation lacks the point and the essence of the book that made it such a cult hit. So Sal Paradise (Riley) is a struggling young writer who after the death of his father embarks on this endless journey across America with his friend Dean Moriarty (Hedlund). Sal considers Dean to be his hero, the kind of a mad person that he is, full of passion for what he believes in and living life to its fullest is something that really attracts Sal. This whole story is inspired by Kerouac's real life journey across America in the 40's with his friend Neal Cassady. The characters in the movie represents the people he himself met and the journey signifies what he saw, felt and lived. Other notable literary figures you will get to see are Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs etc.
I don't know what else to say about the movie because that is all i do remember about it. On the Road doesn't actually follows a proper plot, the narrative structure could have been a lot more strong and with some heft. There is travelling around the country but except for the visuals, you don't get much else to work with or to explore. The characters lacks the passion that those people had at the time, they look like quite frankly some very ordinary people. Sam Riley plays Sal Paradise, he is Kerouac. I have never actually praised him in any of his performances, here as much as he looked good in his role is again pretty average for someone who is portraying such a big figure. On the other hand, Garrett Hedlund is the highlight of this movie. Impressive performance by him and he understands the character very well. The sort of magnetic, electric but destructive spark that he has is something that really makes this ride quite interesting. Sal Paradise is the main character in the movie but Dean Moriarty is the most important thing about it. Hedlund not just physically but emotionally brings it all out on the screen. Moriarty is a thrill seeking, sexually driven and impulsive man who avoids responsibilities all the time. He has many sexual encounters, he has several girlfriends and wives and its like he constantly looks for something destructive to make him realize what life is. Kristen Stewart plays Marylou, Moriarty's girlfriend who by the way is criminally underplayed by Stewart. Though i don't think it was a terrible performance but Stewart could have done just a bit more. There are some other actors in their small roles to light up the screen like Mortensen, Adams, Dunst and Howard.
On the Road is visually stunning, the cinematography is quite amazing. It uses the diverse locations they shoot during the entire movie very wisely. A very good looking movie. It also has a beautiful soundtrack and a nice score. On the Road is largely aimless and quite a bore. The episodic nature of it doesn't help, things happen but you don't care. From the ups and downs of Moriarty to Sal's self-discovery and later his success. The characters seems oddball for their times, which is strangely the opposite of what this movie should have been about. There isn't real sadness or sense of heartbreaking state when towards the end you see Moriarty in such situation while Sal becoming the man he always wanted to be because as much as Hedlund tries you to invest in his character, the movie never allows it to grow on you. On the Road should be seen for Hedlund's impressive performance, as a visually stunning road trip movie or mainly if you are the fan of the book but you should know that the movie itself is quite a mess. The sound of the typewriter, booze, music and thoughtful philosophies about life might just be enough for some of you i am sure.