Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
The Perfect Night In
Great Movies From Warner Bros.
Create A Short Film
With the BFI & O2
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
On The Road

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast

Kristen Stewart
Garrett Hedlund
Sam Reilly
Kirsten Dunst
Viggo Mortensen.
Directors
Walter Salles.
Screenwriters
Jose Rivera.
Running Time
137 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Horse Money
4 Star Empire Rating
Tangerines
4 Star Empire Rating
Infini
2 Star Empire Rating
Zarafa
2 Star Empire Rating
Closed Curtain
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Man With A Movie Camera
5 Star Empire Rating
Salt Of The Earth, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Song Of The Sea
5 Star Empire Rating
Look Of Silence, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Mad Max: Fury Road
5 Star Empire Rating

On The Road
Let it bebop


submit to reddit


Plot
Aspiring writer Sal Paradise (Riley) meets bohemian hipster Dean Moriarty (Hedlund) in late-’40s New York, and together they embark on a cross-country tour of the US by car.


Review
On The Road
Browse more images »
The trouble with adapting Beat writing is that it is exactly that: writing. What Jack Kerouac did was stretch what was permissible in the field of literature, assembling a coherent novel from the syncopated slang of the city streets. If Walter Salles had really wanted to pay homage to Kerouac’s landmark 1957 novel, he would have tried to find a visual equivalent for his urgent, heady style written in amphetamine-fuelled sessions. Instead, the film is desperately conservative, a period-precise cover version of all the book’s main events.

To remind us, then, that this is the On The Road, Salles resorts quite often to voiceover from Sam Riley’s Sal Paradise, the blocked, provincial writer who finds inspiration in the free-spirited hustler Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund). Salles gets this relationship the most nearly-right of everything here, largely thanks to Hedlund’s charismatic performance, but also due to Salles’ willingness to accept the sexuality that drives Sal’s curiosity. It stops prudishly short of the definite homoerotic aspects that tinge almost all Beat writing, but, in terms of equal-opportunity nudity, On The Road is about as frank an adap as we could wish for. Kristen Stewart, as Moriarty’s jailbait lover and teen wife Marylou, is especially game, given that her character gets to show more skin than personality.

Likewise, the drug use is not sanitised — Sal and co. puff openly on herbal cigarettes and wantonly abuse benzedrine inhalers — and the effects of a sex, drugs and free-form jazz lifestyle are seen as positive in moderation. So why, then, doesn’t it really quite work? Put simply, time has not been kind to Kerouac’s book, just as it was positively cruel to him. Though Salles has tried to modern it up a little, the fact remains that this is simply a highfalutin bromance, with big, bold, meaty roles for the menfolk — including a scene-stealing turn from Viggo Mortensen as the Burroughs-esque Old Bull Lee — and precious little for their women to do except follow the boys round and clean up after them. And when those underused women include Amy Adams and Kirsten Dunst, you really have to wonder about the source material.


Verdict
A decent, well-cast and mounted adaptation that hits all the right notes but plays them in a respectful, muted monotone.


Reviewed by Damon Wise


Related Reviews
Sounds
On The Road
 

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for On The Road
Empire Star Rating

Terrible!

This is one of the most pretentious films I have ever seen! Sam Riley was good and quite surprisingly so was Kristen Stewart but they could not save this being the most boring film I have seen in a long time! Nothing happened! I just hope it was based on a true story because if someone actually came up with this idea well god help us all! Avoid! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by guysalisbury at 10:34, 16 August 2013 | Report This Post


On The Road

3 is about right for me. It was ok. Definitely nowhere near Motorcycle Diaries. It does look great though and there's a few great little cameos. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by talpacino at 14:12, 17 October 2012 | Report This Post


(Haven't seen it yet)

I don't get how you're relating the source material to the actresses who have been cast. I don't doubt that On the Road is somewhat misogynistic and women have a limited role. However, the film shouldn't give the woman greater parts just because there are good actresses available. The novel is fundamentally a 'bromance'- 'I think of Dean Moriarty' - and it should be kept that way, as something idealistic and wild, yet sad and flawed. I don't agree that the novel has aged badly either - I think t... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheLikelyLad at 23:28, 10 October 2012 | Report This Post



CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Empire Meets The Stars Of Me And Earl And The Dying Girl
On the Sundance smash, bedroom posters and Nick Offerman

10 Star Wars: The Force Awakens Toys You’ll Want To Own
Falcon quad copter? BB-8 Sphero? We’re already asking for pay raises…

Wes Craven: Film By Film
Empire celebrates the late, great horror director

My Movie Life: Andrew Haigh
The 45 Years director on the movies that made him

Vanity Projects: The Musical Edition
A dozen more hits and misses from the rock and pop world

Inside The Martian: Empire Meets NASA
Prepare to science the shit out of it...

Deadpool: A Complete History
Empire's guide to The Merc With A Mouth, in comics and on screen

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Empire print magazine

Delivered to your door – with exclusive subscriber only covers each month! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Empire digital magazine

Exclusive and enhanced content – get instant access via your iPad or Android device! Save money today and

Subscribe now!

Subscribe now and save up to 63%
Print, Digital & Package options available Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)