Review: On The Road
In the late 1940’s, three youths confront their own desires and vices as they travel cross-country, encountering a variety of equally wayward and confused souls. Driven metaphorically by love, passion, idealism, and truth, and literally by some helpful souls and their own opportunistic nature, the three challenge ideas of love and what it means to be alive–at least they think so.
Who’s in It?
Kristin Stewart is Marylou, but really plays Kristen Stewart, and not a girl of the time, finding herself at the subject of two masters (Sam Riley and Garrett Hedlund), often in the fun, sexual way. It’s the supporting cast that makes the film enjoyable, with notable appearances by Amy Adams and Viggo Mortensen, just to name but a couple.
Aimless and containing only moments of interest, and less exciting than a trip across the United States should be, On the Road attempts the difficult task of translating Jack Kerouac’s famed book and fails considerably to be the least bit affecting. Part of the failure is indeed the medium—this would work better as a serial perhaps—as thy film can easily be cut apart and rearranged, and be none the worse. There is no beginning or end, and that doesn’t work on screen.
The only time the characters and their aspiring free-spiritedness and idealistic goals are the least bit moving is when they are physically moving. Sal Paradise is entranced by Dean, a wild, easy-going, and ultimately self-serving charmer, and while the two feel free as can be on their wild escapades, it’s hard not to feel trapped with these two careless kids as they dance, sweat, screw, and use their way across the country and back again.
Perhaps a compelling vision of the time for those who grew up during it, the concept of free spirit is apparently defined by loud music, wild gesticulations, and more than one’s far share of solitary roadside ambling. This liberated sense is dramatized by no more than the title and the first shot of a two-lane highway rolling past. While the people the trio meet offer excitement and intrigue (especially Mortensen and one later cameo in particular), the trip along the way has you begging them to let you off at the next stop.
Should You See It?
Not in the theatres to be sure, and definitely not as the focal point of any worthwhile evening. And if you’re keen on seeing sordid scenes featuring the star of a tween vampire series, then definitely wait to watch in the comfort of your own home.
Viggo Mortensen to Sal, while holding a gun in his hand and wearing a very amusing outfit, “Well young man, I do believe the cocktail hour is upon us.”
It sure is, Viggo. It sure it.