On the Road (film)
|On the Road|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Walter Salles|
|Produced by||Nathanael Karmitz
|Screenplay by||Jose Rivera|
|Based on||On the Road
by Jack Kerouac
|Music by||Gustavo Santaolalla|
|Editing by||François Gédigier|
France 2 Cinéma
|Distributed by||IFC Films
Sundance Selects (US)
|Running time||137 minutes (Cannes)
124 minutes (Toronto)
On the Road is a 2012 Brazilian-French adventure drama film directed by Walter Salles. It is an adaptation of the 1957 novel of the same name by Jack Kerouac. The film stars an ensemble cast featuring Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams, Tom Sturridge, Danny Morgan, Alice Braga, Elisabeth Moss, Kirsten Dunst, and Viggo Mortensen. The executive producer was Francis Ford Coppola. Filming began on August 4, 2010, in Montreal, Quebec, with a $25 million budget.
The story is based on the years Kerouac spent travelling the United States in the late 1940s with his friend Neal Cassady and several other figures who would go on to fame in their own right, including William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg.
On May 23, 2012, the film premiered in competition for the Palme d'Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. The film received mixed early reviews after it premiered at the film festival. The film also premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival in September.
Soon after the death of his father in New York in 1947, Sal Paradise, a young writer, meets Dean Moriarty, a charismatic, easy-going, hedonistic young man who loves to party, smoke pot, and occasionally steal cars. Dean is adored by his wife, Marylou, and soon Sal joins them on a trip where Dean is also involved with Camille. Their other road journeys throughout the late 1940s are also chronicled as they meet up with a variety of unorthodox characters.
- Garrett Hedlund as Dean Moriarty
- Sam Riley as Sal Paradise
- Kristen Stewart as Marylou
- Amy Adams as Jane
- Tom Sturridge as Carlo Marx
- Alice Braga as Terry
- Elisabeth Moss as Galatea Dunkel
- Danny Morgan as Ed Dunkel
- Kirsten Dunst as Camille
- Viggo Mortensen as Old Bull Lee
- Steve Buscemi as Tall thin salesman
- Terrence Howard as Walter
- Giselle Itié as Tonia
- Marie-Ginette Guay as Gabrielle Levesque, Sal's aunt
Previous attempts 
A film adaptation of On the Road had been in development hell for decades. In 1957, Jack Kerouac wrote a one-page letter to actor Marlon Brando, suggesting that he play Dean Moriarty while Kerouac would portray Sal Paradise. In the letter, Kerouac envisioned the film to be shot "with the camera on the front seat of the car showing the road (day and night) unwinding into the windshield, as Sal and Dean yak." Brando never responded to the letter, and later on Warner Bros. offered $110,000 for the rights to Kerouac's book but his agent, Sterling Lord, declined it. Lord hoped for $150,000 from Paramount Pictures, which wanted to cast Brando in the film. The deal did not occur and Kerouac was angered that his agent asked for too much money.
Filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola bought the rights in 1979. Over the years, he hired several screenwriters to adapt the book into a film, including Michael Herr and Barry Gifford, only for Coppola to write his own draft with son Roman. In 1995, the filmmaker planned to shoot on black-and-white 16mm film and held auditions with poet Allen Ginsberg in attendance but the project fell through. Coppola said, "I tried to write a script, but I never knew how to do it. It's hard — it's a period piece. It's very important that it be period. Anything involving period costs a lot of money." Several years later he tried again with Ethan Hawke and Brad Pitt to play Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty respectively, but this project also failed to work. In 2001, Coppola hired novelist Russell Banks to write the script and planned to make the film with Joel Schumacher directing and starring Billy Crudup as Sal Paradise and Colin Farrell as Dean Moriarty, but this incarnation of the project was shelved as well. Gus Van Sant also expressed interest in making the film.
Coppola saw The Motorcycle Diaries and hired Brazilian director Walter Salles to direct the film. Salles was drawn to the novel because, according to him, it is about people "trying to break into a society that’s impermeable" and that he wants "to deal with a generation that collides with its society." At the end of 2008, he was about to have the film greenlit when the American economy collapsed and French financier Pathe wanted to make significant cuts to the $35 million budget. Producer Rebecca Yeldham realized that they could not make the film Salles had originally envisioned. However, while talking to MK2 Productions in Paris about other potential films, they asked Salles if he had any passion projects. He told them about On the Road and at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, MK2 greenlit production with a $25 million budget and Coppola's American Zoetrope in association with Film4 in the U.K., France 2 Cinéma, Canal+, France Télévisions, Ciné+ and Videofilmes in Brazil.
In preparation for the film, he made the documentary Searching for On the Road, in which he took the same road trip as the lead character in the novel, Sal Paradise, and talked to Beat poets who knew Kerouac. He did this in order to understand "the complexity of the jazz-infused prose and the sociopolitical climate that informed the period." Salles was occasionally joined by the film's screenwriter Jose Rivera in addition to spending six months reading up on Kerouac. Rivera then began writing the screenplay, producing approximately 20 drafts. Later drafts relied less on the published book and more on the original manuscript, which had been typed on a 120-foot roll of paper and kept in all the real names.
In 2010, Salles had to convince the cast he had assembled in 2007 to remain committed to the project. This included Sam Riley as the alter ego of author Jack Kerouac, Sal Paradise, Garrett Hedlund as Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassady), who had been linked to the role since September 2007, and Kristen Stewart as Marylou. Salles had wanted to cast her after seeing the Sean Penn film Into the Wild but had to film her scenes before October 2010 when she started shooting The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn.
Kirsten Dunst was later cast as Camille. By the first week of August 2010, Viggo Mortensen and Amy Adams had joined the cast, Mortensen for the role of Old Bull Lee (William S. Burroughs) and Adams as the character's wife, Jane (Joan Vollmer). English actor Tom Sturridge was cast as Carlo Marx (Allen Ginsberg), poet and friend to both Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty.
Salles reunited with some of the crew members whom he worked with on The Motorcycle Diaries, including producer Rebecca Yeldham, screenwriter José Rivera, director of photography Eric Gautier, production designer Carlos Conti, and composer Gustavo Santaolalla.
Before filming began on August 2, 2010, in Montreal, Canada, the entire cast underwent a three-week "beatnik boot camp," according to Stewart, which involved reading literature pertaining to the Beat Generation and was led by Kerouac biographer Gerald Nicosia. He played an audio interview that was recorded in 1978 with Lu Anne Henderson, Neal Cassady's wife, on whom the book’s character Marylou is based. To give the cast an idea of the kind of film he envisioned, Salles screened Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless and John Cassavetes' Shadows.
Principal photography 
Filming began on August 4, 2010, in Montreal, Canada. After a month of filming in Montreal, the production shot footage in Gatineau, Quebec, on August 17, which stands in for Denver, Colorado, in 1947. The film shot for five days in the middle of October 2010 in and around Calgary, Alberta. The production also shot in New Orleans for a month, then returned to Montreal to shoot the film's final scenes. The production shot for a week in early December 2010 in San Francisco. Salles originally wanted to shoot in Mexico for several weeks but with the escalating drug wars there, very little was filmed and the production moved to Arizona instead. In addition, the production also shot in Argentina and Chile with actor Garrett Hedlund at one point filming a scene in which he drove a 1949 Hudson Hornet in the Andes during a blizzard, wearing goggles and screaming out his window while director Walter Salles sat in the passenger seat holding a camera, with another camera mounted on the front of the car.
Hedlund described filming as "quite a guerilla shoot. At times, there’s just been two handfuls of crew members around us and it’s a very quiet situation." Cinematographer Eric Gautier shot several scenes with a handheld camera, and Salles encouraged the cast to improvise and "to make scenes flow and have a rhythm," said Hedlund.
On the Road screened on May 23 2012 at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was nominated for the top prize. A shorter version, running 124 minutes, was shown on September 6, 2012 at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Critical reception 
Early reviews of On the Road were mainly mixed, although the performance of Garrett Hedlund was often singled out for praise. The film has a 45% "rotten" rating on the website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 90 reviews and an average score of 5.5/10.
In The Hollywood Reporter, veteran reviewer Todd McCarthy praised the film, writing "While the film’s dramatic impact is variable, visually and aurally it is a constant pleasure. Eric Gautier’s cinematography is endlessly resourceful, making great use of superb and diverse locations". McCarthy also spoke highly of Hedlund's performance saying, "Although the story is Sal/Kerouac’s, the star part is Dean, and Hedlund has the allure for it; among the men here, he’s the one you always watch, and the actor effectively catches the character’s impulsive, thrill-seeking, risk-taking, responsibility-avoiding personality." Entertainment Weekly magazine's Owen Gleiberman wrote, "The best thing in the movie is Garrett Hedlund’s performance as Dean Moriarty, whose hunger for life — avid, erotic, insatiable, destructive — kindles a fire that will light the way to a new era. Hedlund is as hunky as the young Brad Pitt, and like Pitt, he’s a wily, change-up actor".
Stewart's performance garnered mixed reviews, with one critic writing "Stewart as Marylou completes the awkward threesome for a large part of the film and whilst there is little for her to do here she also makes very little out of what she has to work with," and that she "flatters to deceive, offering some moments of passion...criminally underplaying a character in Marylou who is supposed to burn with energy." However, New York magazine's Kyle Buchanan wrote, "Certainly, there's nothing regrettable about Stewart's performance here: It reestablishes the promising character actress last seen in Into the Wild and held captive as Twilight's leading lady for years," and Todd McCarthy said, Stewart "is perfect in the role." Peter Travers from Rolling Stones gave her a positive notice, calling her "a live wire. In the front seat of a car with Sal and Dean – all naked – she jerks off both boys with a joy that defines free spirit."
In her review for The New York Times, Manohla Dargis criticized the film saying, "Mr. Salles, an intelligent director whose films include The Motorcycle Diaries, doesn't invest On the Road with the wildness it needs for its visual style, narrative approach and leads. This lack of wildness – the absence of danger, uncertainty or a deep feeling for the mad ones – especially hurts Dean, who despite the appealing Mr. Hedlund, never jumps off the screen to show you how Cassady fired up Kerouac and the rest". Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian felt that the film was a "good-looking but directionless and self-adoring road movie", and that it had "a touching kind of sadness in showing how poor Dean is becoming just raw material for fiction, destined to be left behind as Sal becomes a New York big-shot. But this real sadness can't pierce or dissipate this movie's tiresome glow of self-congratulation". Finally,Time magazine's Richard Corliss had a problem with Salles' approach to the material: "Though there’s plenty of cool jazz in the background, the movie lacks the novel’s exuberant syncopation — it misses the beat as well as the Beat. Some day someone may make a movie worthy of On the Road, but Salles wasn't the one to try. This trip goes nowhere".
Eric Ehrmann, writing in the May 31, 2012 Huffington Post, blamed Francis Ford Coppola for having "outsourced" the film to "a Brazilian director from a billionaire banking family who gentrified" the white trash characters of the book. Ehrmann, a pioneering New Journalism writer, covered the funeral of Jack Kerouac for Rolling Stone in 1969.
Awards and nominations 
- Amy Adams won the Hollywood Film Festival Supporting Actress of the Year awards (Also for Trouble with the Curve and The Master)
- The Palme d'Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival
- The Official Competition Award For Walter Salles for Best Direction at the 2012 Sydney Film Festival
- One of the Top 10 Independent Films of 2012 by the National Board of Review
- #8 in Variety's Most Unusual Movies Of 2012.
- Cinema 2012 Best Movies Of The Year By Kees van Dijkhuizen jr
- The poster was named #25 Poster of the Year by Entertainment Weekly
- One of the Best Movies Of 2012 by Total Film
- Kilday, Gregg (May 8, 2012). "Cannes 2012: Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart's On the Road Acquired by IFC Films and Sundance Selects". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2012-05-24.
- "Sur la route - released". AlloCiné.fr. Retrieved August 5, 2012.
- "On the Road". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved 2012-08-28.
- "ON THE ROAD (15)". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved 2013-04-04.
- "On the Road (2012)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-11-05.
- Kemp, Stuart (May 6, 2010). "Kristen Stewart goes On the Road". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- "2012 Official Selection". Cannes. Retrieved 2012-04-19.
- "Cannes Film Festival 2012 line-up announced". Time Out. Retrieved 2012-04-19.
- "On the Road". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-05-24.
- At the movies
- Goldberg, Matt (August 13, 2010) "First Image of Kristen Stewart in Walter Salles' On the Road; Steve Buscemi, Elisabeth Moss, Alice Braga, Terrence Howard to Co-Star", Collider.com. Retrieved 2010-08-16
- Moreault, Éric (August 12, 2010). "Marie-Ginette Guay incarne la mère de Jack Kerouac au grand écran". Le Soleil. Retrieved 2010-08-18.
- Martelle, Scott (June 4, 2005). "On the road again". The Age. Retrieved 2010-11-30.
- Mottram, James (September 12, 2008). "The long and grinding story of On The Road". The Independent. Retrieved 2010-07-12.
- Galloway, Stephen (May 9, 2012). "How On The Road Slashed Kristen Stewart's $20 Million Paycheck and Finally Made it to Screen". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2012-08-29.
- Ealy, Charles (May 19, 2008). "Our Man in Cannes: Latin American movie bonanza". Austin360.com. Retrieved 2008-05-21.
- Romney, Jonathan (May 18, 2008). "Woody Allen banks on three beauties to woo critics at Cannes". The Independent. Retrieved 2008-05-21.
- Lesnick, Silas (September 27, 2010). "Garrett Hedlund Talks TRON: Legacy". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
- "Kristen Stewart to star in Jack Kerouac story". USA Today. May 5, 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- Hopewell, John; Elsa Keslassy (May 12, 2010). "Dunst joins Stewart On the Road". Variety. Retrieved 2010-05-13.
- Fleming, Mike (August 4, 2010). "Amy Adams Joins Viggo Mortensen For 'On The Road' Trip". Deadline.com. Retrieved 2010-10-23.
- Schwartz, Terri (August 11, 2010). "Robert Pattinson's Pal Tom Sturridge Joins Kristen Stewart In On The Road". MTV News. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
- Keslassy, Elsa (May 7, 2010). "Salles, Coppola finally hit The Road". Variety. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- Sperling, Nicole (May 6, 2010). "Kristen Stewart squeezes Walter Salles On the Road in between Twilight duties". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010-05-07.
- Vena, Jocelyn (June 17, 2010). "Kristen Stewart 'Genuinely Nervous' To Film On The Road". MTV News. Retrieved 2010-06-18.
- James, Scott (April 14, 2011). "Trepidations Aside, On the Road Becomes a Movie at Last". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-04-20.
- Vary, Adam B (August 4, 2010). "Viggo Mortensen, Amy Adams join On The Road". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2010-08-04.
- Soloman, Karen (August 17, 2010). "Hollywood comes to Gatineau to film On the Road". CTV News. Retrieved 2010-08-18.
- Lawson, Catherine (2008-08-17). "Shooting of Kristen Stewart film On the Road comes to Hull". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2010-08-18.
- Volmers, Eric (2010-10-09). "Alberta opens its doors to The Hobbit". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2012-05-31.
- Kelly, Brendan (August 18, 2010). "Kristen Stewart On the Road in Montreal". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 2010-10-24.
- Sabatini, Joshua (2010-12-08). "On the Road filming begins in SF". San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved 2010-12-09.
- Keegan, Rebecca (2011-02-04). "Garrett Hedlund on 'On the Road': 'Jazz, women and drugs'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-02-07.
- Radish, Christina (2010-09-27). "Garrett Hedlund Exclusive Interview TRON: Legacy; Plus an On the Road Update". Collider.com. Retrieved 2010-09-28.
- "On the Road". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
- "About On the Road". Retrieved 2012-08-04.
- "On the Road". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
- McCarthy, Todd (May 23, 2012). "On the Road: Cannes Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2012-05-24.
- Gleiberman, Owen (May 23, 2012). "On the Road". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2012-05-24.
- May 23, 2012 (2012-05-23). "On the Road Movie Review". Heyuguys.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-05.
- "Cannes Review: ‘On The Road’ Is A Failed Attempt to Adapt the Unadaptable". Film School Rejects. Retrieved 2012-11-05.
- Buchanan, Kyle (May 23, 2012). "The Sexual Remaking of Kristen Stewart". New York. Retrieved 2012-05-24.
- Travers, Peter (December 18, 2012). "On the Road". RollingStone.com. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
- Dargis, Manohla (May 23, 2012). "Cannes Film Festival: An Early Look at On the Road". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-05-24.
- Bradshaw, Peter (May 23, 2012). "On the Road". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2012-05-24.
- Corliss, Richard (May 23, 2012). "Kerouac's On the Road Comes to Cannes: Where's the Beat?". Time. Retrieved 2012-05-24.
- On the Road at the Internet Movie Database
- On the Road at Box Office Mojo
- On the Road at Rotten Tomatoes
- On the Road at Metacritic
- Film news and casting information
- Salles interview