On the Road

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(2012) ★★

Film4: PREMIERE Monday 13 July, 10.50pm

Sam Riley as Jack Kerouac stand-in Sal Paradise, a young writer trying to make his mark in 1947 New York. That’s when he first meets Garrett Hedlund’s promiscuous Dean Moriarty over beer, bennies and Dean’s 16-year-old wife, Marylou (Kristen Stewart), who may as well not be there. It’s a kind of bromance. For all the booze and drugs and sexperimentation, they’re an unhappy bunch, dissatisfied, frustrated and unfulfilled, lost in their own little Dead Beats Society. Their eyes are not on the horizon. They’re navel gazers. A bunch of manic depressives burning up, bless them, like candles in the wind. Even Sal’s bored by the pencilled scribblings he bashes out on a typewriter. Confusion and nonsense he calls it in a rare moment of honest insight. “You goin’ some place or are you just goin’?” someone asks him early on. The answer’s not long coming. Like Jack Kerouac’s Beat bible, Walter Salles’ film also rambles, aimlessly. Prettily photographed, though, with more than its fair share of vintage vehicles. And it must be art because Kristen Stewart gets her kit off. But after Salles’ The Motorcycle Diaries, which had the pull of history, this is trivial pursuit. It’s tolerable for about an hour.

Certificate: 15

Duration: 134min