Tuesday, March 26, 2013

On the Road, the film

I wanted to love this film. I waited so long to see it because the company that distributed the film did a terrible job in bringing it to a wide audience sooner. I had to wait until it was up On Demand on Time Warner Cable in NYC. I watched it in HD on my TV, but the "letterbox" format was very small and off-putting on a TV.

 The film is... (in my opinion of course) awful. I don't even know where to begin. It's filmed partly with the hand held shaky cam, I suppose for some realistic or artistic effect, but it is just dizzying. But, what makes this film a huge disappointment is that it lacks "soul." I never got a sense of the spiritual journey "Sal" was on. It's just so superficial and filled with "noise." It is over acted in parts and I never sense any "truth" from the actors who played the real people. The book, On the Road, is haunting. I read it and became obsessed and possessed. This film never even comes close to getting inside me. It seems miscast and the actors seem to have no sense of the material. It's superficial and the actors are so wrong. They just do not get it right.

And, it is not true to text. At the end (of the book) Sal says good-bye to Dean on West 20th Street in NYC. In the book, Dean "rounded the corner of Seventh Avenue, eyes on the street ahead, and bent to it again. Poor little Laura, my baby, to whom I'd told everything about Dean, began almost to cry." In this film, the final scene does not take place at that location or even end that way. That's just disgraceful.

How could this happen? What were they thinking? The film does not inspire and it does not make me want to learn more about Jack Kerouac, the amazing and brilliant writer. We never get any sense of "the man." It's just sad.

I am depressed. I feel sick inside that a book so magical and so loved could have finally been made into a film and, in my opinion, be such a failure.

I shared my review of the film with some "Beat scholars," and today I received a reply from Helen Weaver, a former girlfriend of Jack Kerouac. 

Helen writes:

"Thank you so much for your honesty (Marjorie). I was sure the movie was going to be awful, because how can you make something cinematic about what is essentially a poem? I've had no desire to see it, even before Joyce Johnson read the script and told me it was terrible. I know you're right, and you've absolved me from the duty to watch yet another failure to understand Jack's masterpiece." 

Helen, thank-YOU for your reply. My piece about Helen Weaver appears at this blog here:

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