Mixed or average reviews - based on 14 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 6 out of 14
  2. Negative: 4 out of 14
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  1. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Oct 31, 2013
    Filmed without a trace of sentimentality, Big Sur is an achingly sad last hurrah.
  2. Reviewed by: Kevin Jagernauth
    Nov 2, 2013
    Big Sur rises and fades, shifts and moves, through movements and melodies, singing a beautifully sad song for an era and a man who lost his way.
  3. Reviewed by: Robert Abele
    Oct 31, 2013
    Although no less fawning and indulgent about its self-centered subject, played by Jean-Marc Barr (who also narrates, run-on style), the muted emptiness of the ill-fated sojourn wills its way toward something like existential meaningfulness.
  4. Reviewed by: Guy Lodge
    Sep 20, 2013
    Michael Polish’s Big Sur offers an elegantly muted take on the midlife ennui of Kerouac’s autobiographical 1962 novel.
  5. Reviewed by: Justin Lowe
    Sep 20, 2013
    Filming a truly immersive and dimensional adaptation of a Kerouac novel remains an ongoing challenge for any filmmaker, but Polish’s film comes closer than most, while adding another layer of complexity to the author’s venerable reputation.
  6. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Oct 31, 2013
    A beautiful and sometimes affecting film that (appropriately, some would say) has as much difficulty connecting with the world before it as its protagonist does.
  7. Reviewed by: Jeff Baker
    Oct 31, 2013
    Some of the performances -- Mitchell, Fischler and especially Lucas -- are lively, but Barr never gets under Kerouac's skin to show the pain of an artist who can't hold his life together. It's a tragedy, played entirely on the surface.
  8. Reviewed by: Mike D'Angelo
    Oct 30, 2013
    Nobody’s given the opportunity to do much more than brood prettily and occasionally shout carpe diembromides into the pounding surf.
  9. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Nov 1, 2013
    But with Kerouac declaring that “the only thing that matters is the conceptions in my own mind,” we’re still left waiting for the filmmaker who can take us there.
  10. Reviewed by: Michael Atkinson
    Oct 29, 2013
    Not exactly a hagiography, Polish's film isn't a tragedy, either -- it's just an uneventful afternoon spent with a dozing rummy.
  11. Reviewed by: David Lee Dallas
    Oct 28, 2013
    The viewer is informed of a world of chaos, obsession, and irresolution, but has no cinematic means of accessing or understanding it.
  12. Reviewed by: Nathan Rabin
    Oct 31, 2013
    Despite the parade of pretty images and lovely scenery, Big Sur stubbornly fails to cohere into a real movie; instead, it feels like an illustrated novel full of words, ideas, and images, but devoid of structure or characterization.
  13. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Oct 29, 2013
    The film has a restless, nomadic quality similar to Kerouac’s lifestyle, but there’s no there there.
  14. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    Oct 29, 2013
    Edited to ribbons so that every peripheral player — Kate Bosworth, Radha Mitchell, Josh Lucas, Henry Thomas — is even more one-dimensional than Kerouac himself, it’s a work that accurately expresses the awfulness of narcissistic self-destruction, and nothing else.

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