Decades in the making, the Francis Ford Coppola produced, Walter Salles directed "On The Road" finally premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May to a mixed response. The adaptation of Jack Kerouac's seminal novel of a generation was never the easiest thing to bring to the screen, and our review by James Rocchi from the Croisette called it "lustrous but long winded." And indeed, running nearly 2 hours and 20 minutes, this writer was definitely checking his watch during the film. Now as it heads to TIFF, it looks like Salles has hit the editing bay one more time for a new, slimmer cut.
IndieWire recently chatted with IFC Films honcho Jonathan Sehring, and he elaborated on what audiences in Toronto will see. "The response at Cannes was that some people loved it and some people were respectful of it, like some people loved the book. And Walter took a lot of that to heart. He’s gone back, and we’re unveiling a new cut in Toronto, which is about 15 minutes shorter. It’s a little over two hours now. He’s added certain things that weren’t in the cut that was in Cannes," he explained. "He has been in New York and Rio and L.A. working on it the past couple of months, and it’s going to be very wet when it gets to Toronto. We’re locked, but they’re finishing the mix up right now. We’re very, very excited about it."
It will be interesting to see what elements and moments get axed, shuffled and added to the movie, and certainly with an extensive cast featuring a number of actors in brief appearances, we wonder who might ultimately end up on the cutting room floor. If we were to take a wild stab in the dark, we'd wager that Alice Braga might be one who could get sliced out. She plays Terry (aka Bea Franco), a young Mexican woman Kerouac meets on his journey and exchanges letters with that he fictionalized in the novel, and her role is already quite small and a bit inconsequential in the film.
Whether this makes for a smoother, sharper "On The Road" remains to be seen. If anything, Salles has kept the ambling nature of the source material intact, though the cut we saw certainly could've used a bit of a pacing punch up, and this may do the trick. And as Sehring notes, it's the kind of movie that will split audiences. "That novel and that whole Beat thing, people take it so personally. Either they passionately love it or they passionately hate it, and that’s one of the things that really attracted us [to the film] across the board, everyone in the company," he said.
"On The Road" will play TIFF next month. No release date has been set yet for the film.