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3.5 out of 4 stars

On The Road
Directed by
Walter Salles

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 scatter shot. 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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