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

Drama adapted from Jack Kerouac's cult novel, starring Garrett Hedlund, Sam Riley and Kristen Stewart. In 1940s New York, writer Sal Paradise is bewitched by the hedonistic lifestyle of traveller Dean Moriarty and his young wife Marylou. After Dean leaves for Denver, Sal decides to tag along and together they embark on a drug, sex and jazz-fuelled journey across America.

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