On the Road

Rated 3.0

Walter Salles’ plush-looking film version of the iconic Jack Kerouac novel plays heavily on the roman à clef angle—Sal Paradise = Kerouac, Dean Moriarty = Neal Cassady, Carlo Marx = Allen Ginsberg, etc. That works nicely enough with the film’s meticulous approach to period décor (late-40s), but Salles’ starry-eyed classics-illustrated direction and screenwriter Juan Rivera’s blandly conventional script leave a void that even a deep, talented cast can’t fill. Garrett Hedlund does some justice to the outlaw flamboyance of Moriarty/Cassady, but the Salles/ Rivera version of the character is more reckless vagabond than Kerouac-style holy madman. Worse yet, the film’s lame conception of Paradise/Kerouac misses Kerouac territory altogether. Tom Sturridge (Marx/Ginsberg) and Viggo Mortensen (Bull Lee/ William S. Burroughs) are the lone standouts of character and performance. Pageant Theatre. Rated R.