Review: On The Road

31 October 2012

Director Walter Salles and screenwriter Jose Rivera have teamed up once again to capture the American road in the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s quintessential beat-gen travel tale On The Road.

Ravenous for adventure, young writer Sal Paradise (Sam Riley) and hedonistic renegade Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund) charge across the American plains in their ’49 Hudson. They travel from the cotton fields of California, to the industrial coldness of ‘Frisco bay, to the swampy plantations of Louisiana and back to the cold water apartments of Ozone Park, New York City.

Salles successfully juxtaposes moments of whisky-fuelled, shambolic snafus with the barren emptiness and unending nature of ‘the road’ with well measured pacing. Eric Gautier’s stunning cinematography alone is enough to go see the film, while an expressive use of music was also a highlight. Each main character is introduced with their own beat, rhythm and genre, making the film both a visual and aural delight.

On The Road is a storng adaptation that comes close to matching the tone of the book. Adaptations are not exact replicas, but interpretations, and this is a fine one. An open mind is essential to appreciate the film for what it is and to not be blinded by the love of the text.

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