Based on the 1957 Jack Kerouac novel of the same name, “On the Road” is based on Kerouc’s life in the late 1940s, at the birth of Beat culture, when the author and his hedonistic group of friends traveled the country with nearly empty pockets and curious minds.
The story follows a young man named Sal Paradise (played by Sam Riley), a writer who becomes acquainted with a free-spirited vagabond and car thief named Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund). As Dean and Sal crisscross the country from New York to Colorado to California, the young scribe fills his pages while his wayward pal bounces between his voyeuristic wife (Kristen Stewart) and pregnant mistress.
“On the Road” opens in limited theatrical release this Friday, March 22, and will be available with XFINITY On Demand starting March 26. Keep scrolling to check out five good reasons to add this movie to your must-watch list.
1. The Leading Men. Best known for his breakout role in “Tron: Legacy,” 28-year-old actor Garrett Hedlund proves he has the chops to lead a movie. As Dean Moriarty, Hedlund evokes the powerful, yet playful screen presence of Brad Pitt with shades of Johnny Depp‘s character acting abilities. Relative unknown Sam Riley is equally captivating as writer Sal Paradise, lending his own charm to film with a crisp voiceover that captures the time period and helps drive the narrative forward. (Photo: IFC)
2. A Glimpse into History. “On the Road” brilliantly captures a specific moment in bohemian culture and, as in Kerouc’s novel, studies the lives and personalities of the real men who brought it to prominence. The author (pictured left) based Paradise on himself, while Moriarty was derived from his friend, poet Neal Cassady. The film also features characters based on Beat culture personalities Allen Ginsberg, LuAnne Henderson, William S. Burroughs, Joan Vollmer and Al and Helen Hinkle. (Photo: AP)
3. A Different Kind of Kristen. Fans of Kristen Stewart will still catch fleeting glimpses of the awkward 22-year-old they’ve come to know and love from “The Twilight Saga,” but movie fans who’d rather watch anyone else on the big screen will be pleasantly surprised by her performance. As Moriarty’s sexually charged wife Marylou, Stewart is both shockingly confident (with multiple nude scenes) and sweetly vulnerable with a striking presence that belies her minimal screen time. This is just a taste of the Kristen Stewart that earned critical praise as a young teen in “Panic Room” and “Into the Wild.” (Photo: IFC)
4. Big Stars in Compelling Cameos. If you haven’t scanned the cast on IMDB, you might be surprised by appearances from Amy Adams (pictured left), Kirsten Dunst, Elisabeth Moss, Viggo Mortensen, Steve Buscemi and Terrence Howard. Each actor’s role accounts for only a minute or two of screen time, but their appearances pay off in big ways. After all, what’s a good road trip if you don’t bump into a few weirdos along the way? (Photo: IFC)
5. Story and Cinematography Triumph. As you would expect from any movie based on a novel, “On the Road” is driven to its ultimately satisfying conclusion by a compelling narrative and the cast of characters that inhabit it. While the screenplay doesn’t quite capture the full breadth of Kerouc’s rich novel, director Walter Salles (“The Motorcycle Diaries”) is careful to let his actors tell the story without over-modulating their performances. To boot, cinematographer Eric Gautier chooses shots and locations that beautifully evoke the flavor of both time and location, adding a visual treat in an otherwise audible feast. (Photo: IFC)
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.