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On the Road (2012)

820 votes, average 5.6 out of 10

On the Road (2012): A Poetic Journey of Self-Discovery


On the Road (2012), directed by Walter Salles, is an adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s seminal 1957 novel of the same name. Featuring a cast that includes Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, and Kristen Stewart, the film explores the restless and rebellious spirit of the Beat Generation. This review delves into the plot, performances, and thematic elements of On the Road, while providing information on where to stream it in the United States.

Plot Overview

Set in the late 1940s, On the Road follows aspiring writer Sal Paradise (Sam Riley) as he embarks on a series of cross-country journeys. After the death of his father, Sal meets the charismatic and free-spirited Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund) and his wife, Marylou (Kristen Stewart). Drawn to Dean’s energy and unorthodox lifestyle, Sal joins him on a quest for meaning, freedom, and new experiences.

Their journey takes them through the heart of America, encountering a variety of characters and adventures along the way. From wild parties and romantic entanglements to deep philosophical conversations, the road trips encapsulate the essence of the Beat Generation’s pursuit of spontaneity and non-conformity.

Cast and Performances

Sam Riley delivers a nuanced performance as Sal Paradise, capturing the introspective and observant nature of his character. Garrett Hedlund shines as Dean Moriarty, exuding charisma and reckless abandon, embodying the spirit of Kerouac’s iconic character. Kristen Stewart provides a compelling portrayal of Marylou, balancing vulnerability and independence in her role. The supporting cast, including Amy Adams, Viggo Mortensen, and Kirsten Dunst, add depth to the film, each bringing their unique presence to the story.

Cinematography and Direction

Walter Salles’s direction emphasizes the film’s lyrical and episodic structure, staying true to the spirit of Kerouac’s novel. The cinematography by Eric Gautier beautifully captures the vast landscapes and diverse settings of the American road, from bustling cities to serene deserts. The film’s visual style reflects the era’s aesthetic, with a warm, nostalgic color palette that enhances the storytelling. Salles’s approach maintains a balance between the characters’ personal journeys and the broader cultural context of post-war America.

Themes and Tone

On the Road explores themes of freedom, identity, and the search for meaning. The film delves into the existential quest of its characters, highlighting their desire to break free from societal constraints and discover their true selves. The tone is reflective and poetic, with moments of joy, melancholy, and introspection that mirror the highs and lows of the road trips. The film also touches on themes of friendship, love, and the transient nature of life, encapsulating the essence of the Beat Generation’s philosophy.

Critical Reception

On the Road received mixed reviews from critics. Some praised the film for its faithful adaptation of Kerouac’s novel, its visual beauty, and the strong performances, particularly by Riley and Hedlund. Others felt the film struggled to capture the novel’s spontaneous energy and narrative drive, resulting in a slower-paced and less impactful adaptation. Despite the varied reception, the film has been appreciated for its artistic ambition and its attempt to bring a literary classic to the screen.

Streaming Availability

In the United States, On the Road (2012) is available for streaming on platforms like Amazon Prime Video and Hulu. It can also be rented or purchased through digital services such as Google Play, Apple iTunes, and Vudu.


On the Road (2012) is a visually captivating and thoughtfully crafted adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s classic novel. With strong performances from Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, and Kristen Stewart, the film offers a poetic and reflective journey into the heart of the Beat Generation. While it may not fully capture the novel’s frenetic energy, it provides a compelling and evocative cinematic experience for fans of the book and newcomers alike.

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Posted on:
Tagline:The best teacher is experience.
Duration: 124 Min
Language:English, Français
Budget:$ 25.000.000,00
Revenue:$ 8.784.318,00

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