Friday, May 17, 2024

Hey Jack Kerouac: Concern About “On the Road”


Walter Salles is getting ready to shoot “On the Road,” Jack Kerouac‘s classic 1957 novel/memoir. But despite Salles’s fine pedigree, Kerouac scholars are nervous and upset about how things are going.

For one thing, no one is pleased about the casting. Sam Riley, star of “Control,” the film about Joy Division, has been cast as Sal Paradise aka Kerouac. He’s not American, for one thing. And doesn’t look much like Kerouac. Garreth Hedlund is set to play Dean Moriarty/Neal Cassady. Kristen Stewart and Kirsten Dunst are signed to play their love interests.

None of this is winning over Kerouac experts. Plus, those who’ve read Jose Rivera’s script are fairly chagrined about it. “On the Road” is very much language and poetry. Reports on the script are that as one Beat expert says, They don’t get it.”

Salles and Rivera would do well to consult at least one Kerouac expeert, may Joyce Johnson, author of the award winning memoir “Minor Characters.” Johnson was Kerouac’s girlfriend when “On the Road” was published in 1957. She’s now writing a biography of Kerouac due in 2012.

Salles should take note: he’s got one shot at filming a book with 50 years of readers’ expectations. Getting it right is pretty important. And while I liked Sam Riley in “Control,” he does seem like an odd choice to play┬áSal Paradise.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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