Monday, October 29, 2012

Back On The Road With Kerouac

The new film version of Jack Kerouac's On The Road retains much of what made the book a travel classic. That's saying a lot. As the December 21st American release date approaches, consider a few of the many authentic elements that spring directly from the movie's esteemed literary source.

There's a jazz and blues soundtrack befitting the works improvisational style. (The strung-out sentences may reflect a strung-out writer.) Sexy antique cars recall the sense of freedom America's open highways once inspired, when road trips were so cool they even made cheap motels and fast food seem like cultural advancements.

The movie also captures some of the novel's epic sprawl. It was shot in over 30 locations from Canada to Argentina. There is a quirky frolicking cast of characters, including Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Sam Riley, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams, Terrence Howard and Alice Braga.

The film shares Kerouac's artistic intentions (if not pretentions). Generous Quebec-government funding apparently freed the director from most box-office concerns or even ambitions. The French adore Quebecois mama's boy Jack for embracing what they consider high culture: jazz and the menage a trois.

The movie falls slightly short for the same reason it took Francis Ford Coppola many years to finish the project. Everyone knows Jack's vivid narrative voice makes the book but can't be fully reproduced on screen. So, those who've read On The Road will enjoy watching this. Those who haven't needn't bother.

1 comment:

  1. Never read the book myself...

    And Kristen Stewart is like fingernails on a blackboard to me....