10/10/2012 by David Maybury · No Comments
Jack Kerouac's On The Road has been a staple on teen reading lists since it was published in 1957. And after decades of failed adaptation attempts Francis Ford Coppola has finally found a script, actors and a crew to direct and create the film he has wanted to make.
On The Road earns every bit of its 16 rating as it follows the lost and scattered lives of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty as they traipse back and forth across North America. Scattered is the best word for this film, like Kerouac's original, the story has to fight to redeem the myriad of characters who appear and disappear. It jumps emotions, moving from funny to sad in seconds, and recreates jazz clubs, sweaty mamba, lost nights of drug abuse, and wandering streets and cities with the same drifting sense that the book inspired.
The film is beautiful and captures so much of how Kerouac described his America - the backroads, the black-tar roads that curve among the mournful rivers like Susquehanna, Monongahela, old Potomac and Monocacy - and the grit, sweat and speed of the film add to that feeling of manic and unrelenting chaos. There are quieter times and Sal's long first-person narratives leave time for eyes and minds to wander and consider, but these are far less potent than Kerouac's original.
While it is not for everyone but this is certainly a movie to see and talk about. The energy of On The Road is not watered down and the force that comes from watching is an impetus to do more of anything. Of Everything.