Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' How Do You Solve a Problem Like Erika? Universal Hires Husband to Write 'Fifty Shades Darker' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' 'Age of Ultron' Director Joss Whedon on Self-Doubt and Why It's His 'Rio Bravo' Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) Watch: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Tina Fey, Patricia Arquette and Amy Schumer Hilariously Slam Hollywood Sexism (NSFW) CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show CinemaCon: How Tom Cruise Stole the Paramount Show Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Cannes: Directors' Fortnight Lines Up Vet Auteurs and American Indies Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Joe Wright's 'Pan' Gets Fall Release Date: Good News or Bad News? Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) Seeing Ryan Gosling's 'Lost River' Through Composer Johnny Jewel's Eyes (STREAM SOUNDTRACK) 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships 3 Women Genre Directors Get SF Film Society Fellowships Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Here's Why Jon Stewart Quit 'The Daily Show' Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Watch: From Tarantino to Cronenberg, Great Directors Talk the Art and Anxiety of Filmmaking Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Specialty Box Office: 'True Story' and 'Child 44' Flop as 'Ex Machina' Lures Audiences Tribeca Film Festival Matches George Lucas with Stephen Colbert: “I’m gonna tear you a new one, George" Tribeca Film Festival Matches George Lucas with Stephen Colbert: “I’m gonna tear you a new one, George" 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 10 Films Booed at Cannes That Every Cinephile Should See 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work 5 Things You Didn't Know About Lars von Trier, Who's Going Back to Work Time 100 Highlights, from Bradley Cooper to Emma Watson Time 100 Highlights, from Bradley Cooper to Emma Watson The Eerie Connection Between 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and 'Tomorrowland' The Eerie Connection Between 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' and 'Tomorrowland' Digging Into the Cannes Lineup: More Vet Auteurs and Women, No Netflix Digging Into the Cannes Lineup: More Vet Auteurs and Women, No Netflix You Can Now Read Over 200,000 Leaked Sony Emails and Documents You Can Now Read Over 200,000 Leaked Sony Emails and Documents Watch: This Exclusive Tribeca Trailer Promises a Vérité Southern Gothic in Malick Vein Watch: This Exclusive Tribeca Trailer Promises a Vérité Southern Gothic in Malick Vein 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO) 7 Things to Learn from 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner About Compelling Storytelling (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

Cannes 2012: Walter Salles and Sprawling Cast Recreate Jack Kerouac's 'On the Road,' Which is Cruising for an NC-17

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood May 23, 2012 at 11:58AM

"On the Road" is a two hour and 17-minute recreation of Jack Kerouac's seminal 1957 novel. It's a serious thoughtful gorgeously mounted period art film and American travelogue, carefully researched and painstakingly crafted. Walter Salles and writer Jose Rivera, the team behind "The Motorcycle Diaries," succeeded where many failed, over the three decades since producer Francis Ford Coppola optioned the property.
7

The movie goes farther than the book--and is cruising into NC-17 territory in the thrusting department-- in showing the many ways these friends and lovers shared sexual partners, often in a group. Stewart is especially strong in a supporting role as an earthily sexual teenager who thinks nothing of giving hand jobs to both Dean and Jack at the same time in the front seat of the car.

But it's a lot to ask for any actors to take on these well-known figures, and other movies such as "Heartbeat" have struggled depicting these characters. (Neal Cassady appears in Alex Gibney's "Magic Trip," in Ken Kesey's footage from the actual Merry Pranksters bus tour.) Garrett Hedlund ("Tron: Legacy") is a strong physically commanding actor with the edgy musculature and charm that Cassady had, but something is missing. And while it's always thankless to play the writer-observer role, Sam Riley commands the screen without having to say much. "I was a young writer trying to take off," he says in one of many bits of voice-over narration.

Salles has put in eight years on this film, and prepared for it by making the similarly episodic literary journey "The Motorcycle Diaries." The two films are of a piece and are not easily dismissed, even if they are long and meandering. "On the Road" should be seen, especially by younger viewers who may find this slice of American cultural history fascinating. Typically, however, it's more likely that adults will show.

Just before the festival, IFC/Sundance Selects paid a larger advance than usual, fighting off considerable competition to pick up the film, which is not overtly commercial despite its starry cast (including Viggo Mortensen and Amy Adams in cameos as Old Bull Lee--read William S. Burroughs--and his live-in girlfriend), and will push it hard in theaters. "It will be the company's biggest push in years and a top priority," said one IFC/Sundance Selects exec.

Is "On the Road" an Oscar contender? While the Academy will appreciate its craftsmanship, critics will be mixed. The cinematography and costumes are stunning. The film will likely hit the fall fest circuit. But it needs a masterful Oscar campaign (which is not IFC's stock in trade), superb reviews and prizes along the way for its two main actors, Hedlund and Riley, to reach that level, and I don't see that happening.

This article is related to: Festivals, Festivals, Cannes Film Festival, Festivals


E-Mail Updates