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A scene from "On the Road"
A scene from "On the Road"

TIFF 2012

TIFF movie review: On the Road Add to ...

  • Directed by Walter Salles
  • Starring Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart
  • Genre drama
  • Country France/Brazil
  • Language English

Some films based on books are interpretations, some are realizations and some are wish fulfilment. To the latter camp belongs the long-awaited, longer-delayed On the Road. Directed not by a nostalgic American but by Brazil’s Walter Salles (The Motorcycle Diaries), it’s a beautifully peopled dream – Sam Riley plays Sal, Garrett Hedlund is Dean and Kristen Stewart riffs on Marylou – that feels at once bigger and emptier than Kerouac’s portable classic. (Yes, even with a fresh, post-Cannes edit.) Scenery chews up the characters, save for some brilliant minor turns by Kirsten Dunst and Steve Buscemi. Famous, faithfully delivered lines fall short; infamous sex scenes fall through. The film is gorgeous, affecting, suitably scattershot. But at the end, when writer-hero Sal Paradise finally bangs out the whole book in three minutes of screen time, you’re left wondering: What took so long?

Sept. 7, 11:30 a.m., Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

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