Sam Riley in On the Road (2012)

Not My Generation

Following the death of Sal Paradise's (Sam Riley) father the young New York writer finds himself seeking something, something to fill a void in his city life. It is then that he is introduced to recently released Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund) and his friend Marylou (Kristen Stewart). After spending some time hanging around the city and taking in the highs of the back street club scene they decide to escape the narrowing skies of life between the office blocks and hit the road, exploring and experiencing life for themselves.

Has the idea of packing a bag with a few possessions and then bumming around the country crossed your mind, that desire to experience life in a raw, unprocessed manner? If it has I wouldn't be surprised if you told me you had read Jack Kerouac novel "On the Road" as with its story of a writer hitting the road and experiencing life in America it would most likely appeal. But there lies the issue as the idea of travelling around the country like a hobo hasn't ever appealed to me, and as such I haven't read Kerouac's book on which this movie is based.

Now as such I don't know how true "On the Road" is to the original novel and how much of its heart and soul it gets across but for me it was soulless. So we watch Sal and his friends travel, drink, screw, drink, screw, travel and so on which to be blunt becomes monotonous. It also becomes pretentious because the deep drink filled conversations and intellectual thoughts of Sal and his friends do not ring true to me. But as my title says this is not my generation and it is hard to empathise with these characters and what they are feeling as director Walter Salles doesn't get across their angst in a tangible manner.

But whilst the characters ended up keeping me at arms length and I found the whole thing a soulless experience, from a production point of view it sort of impressed me. Due to scenes of these people chatting in a room you forget that this is in fact a period piece and then suddenly you hit the outside and it wakes you up to see all the old cars. It is a shame that it couldn't deliver the soul as it could have been great as it delivers the look.

What this all boils down to is that "On the Road" didn't work for me and quite quickly became a monotonous, soulless experience with a real pretentious side thanks to the characters which in turn kept me at arms length. But I guess for those who came from this generation and felt the need to cut loose it may be a much better movie.