On the Road

  • 15
  • Walter Salles (2011)
  • Fr / UK / US / Bra / Can (SUB)
  • 119 min
Film Review
Reviewed By
3 out of 5

It was always going to be difficult to bring Jack Kerouac's iconic novel of the Beat Generation to the screen, because of its narrative scope and wider pop-culture meaning. Those inherent problems are not solved by this designer-slick adaptation by Motorcycle Diaries director Walter Salles. It's beautifully shot, handsomely mounted and well cast: Garrett Hedlund smoulders as selfish Dean Moriarty; Kristen Stewart hits every right note as uncomplicated Marylou. But the polished attempt to cram in every Benzedrine-drenched detail of Kerouac's spontaneous cross-country adventures, highlighting loyalty and betrayal circa 1950, makes for shallow semi-autobiography. The no-plans, no-responsibility attitude of Moriarty and Sam Riley's Sal Paradise is reflected in the movie's picking up and dropping off of various passengers, including Kirsten Dunst and Viggo Mortensen, along the way. And there's a classy soundtrack that snapshots the music of the era. But Salles rarely hits the necessary freewheeling atmosphere to make this strangely flat road trip an absolute must-see, either for fans of the book or those curious over a past mythological lifestyle.

Plot Summary

A writer recovering from his father's death has his life changed for ever by his encounter with a free-spirited young couple, joining them on a journey of self-discovery across America. Drama based on Jack Kerouac's semi-autobiographical novel, with Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Amy Adams and Viggo Mortensen.

Cast and crew


Dean Moriarty
Garrett Hedlund
Sal Paradise
Sam Riley
Kristen Stewart
Amy Adams
Old Bull Lee
Viggo Mortensen
Kirsten Dunst
Carlo Marx
Tom Sturridge
Ed Dunkel
Danny Morgan
Alice Braga
Ma Paradise
Marie-Ginette Gyay
Galatéa Dunkel
Elisabeth Moss
Tall, thin salesman
Steve Buscemi
Terrence Howard


Walter Salles

Other Information

English, French +subtitles
Theatrical distributor: 
Lionsgate UK
Swearing, sexual references, drug abuse, nudity.
Available on DVD and BluRay
Released 12 Oct 2012
Certificate 15

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