Aspiring writer Sal Paradise gets affected deeply upon the arrival of his 'liberated' friend Dean Moriarty and his young wife Marylou. The trio takes a road trip across the country and meets several people who impact their journey and their lives.
At the conceptual level, the film works. However, to be attentive enough for close to 150 minutes is something else. The film, albeit embellished with marvellous visuals and brilliant acting, fails to engage the audience. The plot isn't gripping enough to hold the audiences for so long. The film was screened at the 14th Mumbai Film Festival under the 'World Cinema' category.
Sal Paradise (Sam Riley) is one shy fella from New York. The aspiring writer meets the laidback vagabond Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund). Both of them hit it off instantly. Dean is an alcoholic, speed demon, drug-addict, sex-addict, maverick and plain demented. He likes to live the 'high' life and believes in trying out just about everything, even threesomes, including another man. He can do just about anything for money. He marries a girl because he needed money for car fuel. He, assumedly 'straight' until then, has sex with another man, once again for favours in exchange. Greedy and selfish he certainly is, but then he is egoistic too. This is why his friendships/relationships/marriages are always on the brink of collapsing! His young wife Marylou (Kristen Stewart) (not to be confused with the car fuel one), an extremely sexually-liberated woman, along with him and Sal, set off on a road trip! Their journey is barraged with mysterious occurrences. While discovering the outside world, the three learn a lot about themselves and each other. Sal, who is too busy to finish his book, learns a thing or two about friendship and trust. Marylou learns what it feels like to get hurt and Dean doesn't learn anything, until it gets too late.
Kristen Stewart is absolutely mind-blowing in the film. Although the film was found lacking at some parts, her performance shines all the way through. Sam plays the understated Sal perfectly while Garrett owns the part of Dean Moriarty. However, the writing was found a bit wanting. The film drags on and on, without any real purpose. Although their lives are affected owing to the journey, there is too much of jumping around between one place to another and the repercussions of the journey on them are not really clear. Even the setting, showing the America of the 1940s and the 1950s, could have been a lot better. Cinematography is just about decent. Direction by Walter Salles leaves a lot to be desired. Had this film been edited a bit differently, it would have been something else (for the good, of course!).
Although the subject is interesting, you may avoid this one.