Set in in the forties,where people search and express themselves through jazz,poetry,alcohol and sex,On the Road is a journey of Sal Paradise(Sam Riley),an author who is currently having a writers block ,decides to take a trip across America where he meets different characters and eventually finding or understanding himself and using it to finish his book.Among the characters he meet are the erotic,free spirited Dean Moriaty whose character is the heart of the story and the young bride Mary Lou which is played by Kristen Stewart.
This is a film where the film basically has no plot and I think that's why most of the reviews were negative.However, I do feel the film is faithful to the novel and it manages to cover all the themes like self discovery and the pros and cons of putting life on hold in the movie thoroughly.While the film is faithful to novel ,Jose Rivera did take some liberty in addressing stuff that were only hinted in the novel such as Dean Moriatty bisexuality and that was refreshing for people who had read the novel.
As for the performance from the cast, everyone does justice to their respective roles but it is Garrett Hedlund as Dean Moriaty steals the show.The casting for this particular character is the trickiest part of adapting this novel because when you analyse this character you realise that despite being a jerk,a classic D-bag ,its his charisma and energy that makes the other characters to follow him blindly and some falling for him.That's where Garret Hedlund was successful in playing this role.He exudes charisma and is so mesmerising when Dean is basking glory and perfectly depict the lows in Dean Moriaty's life with raw emotions and vulnerability.The last scene where we see Hedlund shivering,with a teary eye asking for a lift from Riley's character is so heartbreaking . Plus his chemistry with all his costars is convincing especially with Sam Riley and Tom Sturridge.His powerhouse performance in the film is something I would say a revelation and definitely an award worthy one.
Both Sam Riley and Kristen Stewart does an okay job but as I mentioned above is completely overshadowed by Garrett Hedlund,especially Kristen Stewart whose character is underwritten and only acts as a sex object.However there were some other standouts in terms of cameo performance in the film.Tom Sturridge as the quirky Carlo Maxx who is infatuated with Dean Moriaty and Kirsten Dunst as the a trapped Camille definitely shines in their limited screen time.The scene where Carlo Maxx confesses his feelings for Dean to Sal and the scene where Camille chases Dean is some of the example of their respective best scenes.Both Amy Adams and Steve Buscemi will definitely raise eyebrows with their cameos.
The cinematography is definitely one of the biggest plus of the film.Eric Gautier beautifully captures the gorgeous landscapes that are heavily featured in the film.Two time Academy winner,Gustavo Santaolalla produces yet another masterpiece that sets the tone of the film that is true to the particular era.
The only problem I had was the same problem I had for the book,its treatment on the female characters.This is definitely not a women's film as the female characters are seen as a sex object and a burden and I'm not that fond of that.
In a nutshell,On the Road is not a conventional movie that many will enjoy but definitely worthy giving a try.Its movie about life and self discovery where everything are depicted sometimes with subtlety and sometimes explicitly.I definitely enjoyed the film mainly for it being loyal to the original material and the performance of the cast with Garrett Hedlund at the top of my list.If you do enjoy films like Into the Wild,this is definitely for you!
Possible Oscar contenders:
Best Adapted Screenplay- Jose Rivera
Best Supporting Actor-Garrett Hedlund (Top 5)
Best Supporting Actor-Tom Sturridge
Best Cinematography-Eric Gautier
Best Original Score-Gustavo Santaolalla