Metascore
56

Mixed or average reviews - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 32
  2. Negative: 0 out of 32
  1. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Mar 21, 2013
    88
    Notwithstanding the characters’ spiritual camaraderie, Salles’ emphasizes the hard physical labor and loneliness in Sal’s story, including the jittery rigors of the writing process. When he reaches a crossroads choice between down-and-out Dean and his own rising career, Sal senses that except for the words on a typewritten scroll, his life on the road is gone, real gone.
  2. Reviewed by: Bilge Ebiri
    Dec 23, 2012
    80
    Salles hasn't reinvented On the Road, but rather turned it into a rambling, beautiful, and occasionally even heartbreaking museum piece.
  3. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Dec 20, 2012
    80
    Salles has lovingly crafted a poetic, sensitive, achingly romantic version of the Kerouac book that captures the evanescence of its characters' existence and the purity of their rebellious hunger for the essence of life.
  4. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Mar 21, 2013
    75
    The result is a movie that, like the book, is episodic and has dips in energy but has more than its share of glory and illumination.
  5. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Mar 21, 2013
    75
    On the Road is an honorable homage to the bennies-and-booze-and-bebop-driven hegiras undertaken by the fiercely dedicated anti-establishment duo. But in Salles, screenwriter Jose Rivera and company's effort to get the details right, they only get so far. And it's not quite far enough.
  6. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Mar 21, 2013
    75
    A straightforward and rather sane version of the events described in the book and, against all odds, a surprisingly effective movie.
  7. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Mar 21, 2013
    75
    Call it a successful failure. Some movies worth seeing are like that.
  8. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Dec 20, 2012
    75
    What's best about the film are its quick jumps from one depravity to the next as jazz rambles on the soundtrack: Youth is a candle to be burned at both ends, with (as it was once said about Bob Dylan) a blowtorch in the middle.
  9. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Dec 20, 2012
    75
    Overlong and unfocused in parts, Salles' adaptation nonetheless holds together about as well a movie can when the odds are so heavily stacked against it.
  10. Reviewed by: James Rocchi
    Dec 18, 2012
    75
    If there's one thing that wounds On the Road, it's that the film is full of things -- having sex, doing drugs, being free -- that are far more enjoyably experienced by one's self as opposed to watching other people enjoy them on screen.
  11. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Dec 4, 2012
    70
    Stewart, selected for Marylou five years ago on the basis of her striking debut in "Into the Wild," is perfect in the role, takes off her clothes more than once and nearly always seems to be breaking a sweat, which kicks the sexiness quotient up high.
  12. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Mar 21, 2013
    67
    Even if Salles' film can't possibly capture the impact of its source, it's intriguing enough to rate a place in the ever-expanding mythology of "the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live."
  13. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Jan 2, 2013
    67
    What Salles doesn't conjure is the rapture of Kerouac's bohemian romanticism. Without it, On the Road is a remote experience, all reason and no rhyme.
  14. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Mar 21, 2013
    60
    It’s engaging at times and wonderful to look at, but feels like it’s on the cusp of something bigger. But whatever that bigger thing is, it never arrives.
  15. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Dec 20, 2012
    60
    Salles has made an admirable effort, which - while no roman candle - can be appreciated for its honest ambitions.
  16. Reviewed by: Damon Wise
    Dec 4, 2012
    60
    A decent, well-cast and mounted adaptation that hits all the right notes but plays them in a respectful, muted monotone.
  17. Reviewed by: James Mottram
    Dec 4, 2012
    60
    It may lose its way on occasions, but thanks to a committed cast and a script that captures the Kerouac vibe, Salles' adaptation never ends up on the road to nowhere.
  18. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Dec 4, 2012
    60
    Evocatively lensed, skillfully made and duly attentive to the mercurial qualities of its daunting source material, Walter Salles' picture pulses with youthful energy but feels overly calculated in its bid for spontaneity, attesting to the difficulty and perhaps futility of trying to reproduce Kerouac's literary lightning onscreen.
  19. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Mar 20, 2013
    50
    Although Jack Kerouac's On the Road has been praised as a milestone in American literature, this film version brings into question how much of a story it really offers.
  20. Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    Jan 18, 2013
    50
    Director Walter Salles, who knows a thing or two about picaresque journeys – in "The MotorcycleDiaries," even in "Central Station" – does make an honest effort here.
  21. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Jan 13, 2013
    50
    On the Road is always on the verge of imparting some great truth, but it never arrives. [14 Jan. 2013, p.79]
  22. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Dec 23, 2012
    50
    It's all rather exhausting, as opposed to exhilirating.
  23. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Dec 20, 2012
    50
    The archivist's meticulousness with which this movie was assembled defeats the starving-hysterical-naked urgency of its source material. Could the old Hollywood pharisees have been right? Maybe On the Road is unfilmable.
  24. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    Dec 19, 2012
    50
    Since there's no plot, just a series of anecdotes, much of the meaning in the movie version of On The Road is meta-textual, relying on the viewers' knowledge of who Kerouac was, and how the novel's vision of America differed from how most of the rest of popular culture documented the '50s.
  25. Reviewed by: Nick Pinkerton
    Dec 18, 2012
    50
    Here is one glimmer of truth in what's otherwise a deliberately unfinished fraud - another "primitive" postwar antique repurposed for boutique sale.
  26. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Dec 18, 2012
    50
    A dash of Tarantino might have juiced up Walter Salles' wrongheadedly well-mannered take on Jack Kerouac's 1957 Beat Generation landmark. Kerouac's semi-autobiographical novel comes to the screen looking good but feeling shallow.
  27. Reviewed by: Joseph Jon Lanthier
    Dec 17, 2012
    50
    The lack of a strong expository voice further simplifies the wealth of explicit sex Walter Salles dramatizes, much of it drawn from juicy swathes of Jack Kerouac's only recently published original scroll.
  28. Reviewed by: David Ehrlich
    Dec 13, 2012
    50
    On the Road is rich with evocative period atmosphere and anchored by a trio of compellingly lived-in performances from Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, and Kristen Stewart. Nevertheless, it's another staid adaptation that misses the forest for the trees and confuses people into thinking that some novels truly are "unfilmmable."
  29. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Dec 20, 2012
    40
    It all seems - dare I say it? - of little consequence.
  30. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Dec 20, 2012
    40
    The narrative lacks a strong heartbeat; you keep wondering why the spectacle isn't as affecting as it is picturesque.
  31. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Dec 18, 2012
    40
    Best is Viggo Mortensen's William S. Burroughs proxy Old Bull Lee, holed up in a perspiration-saturated Louisiana mansion with a shell-shocked Amy Adams and a gas-huffing chamber at the ready.
  32. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Dec 4, 2012
    40
    On the Road does, ultimately, have a touching kind of sadness in showing how poor Dean is becoming just raw material for fiction, destined to be left behind as Sal becomes a New York big-shot. But this real sadness can't pierce or dissipate this movie's tiresome glow of self-congratulation.
User Score
6.2

Generally favorable reviews- based on 37 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 9
  2. Negative: 3 out of 9
  1. Dec 22, 2012
    9
    First I have to say I am not in any means a writer, I tend to be prolix and get lost in side thoughts. The language is also a problem... If put thoughts in words is difficult, you can imagine how difficult is to put it in other language than your native one. So...

    I read a lot about it, saw a lot of interviews, articles and critics of the book and the movie (mostly French, some aussie and American). When the Brazilians articles, interviews and movie critics started come out I got very happy to see another tone. A more positive tone and a sense that Walter had done something very intimated, very raw, very human, not a adaptation but a personal view... But some still talking that he still did not made the movie stand by itself.

    So I went to the movie with a mind open and waiting for the excellency that is traditionally Walter's works.

    I didn't feel the movie long or boring at all... The close shots and the open views are both incredibly good. Walter did an amazing job getting subtitle details that show and say more than words with handheld shots.

    The movie is not about "On The Road The book" and also it is not about "On The Road The scroll version book", it is Walter Salles vision of be youth and everything that it brings to the scene. The selfishness, the craziness, the curiosity for the unknown, the anxiety to put out all you are feeling and share it with others, the feeling that you need to do something but you don't know what, the desire of be different, of do something that makes difference, the desire of be creative, the desire of taste and prove all at the same time. Some are followers, some open roads. All of it brings happiness, friendship, auto-affirmation but angst, pain, deception, feeling of failure. Walter talks essential about the human condition of the after WWII young generation that saw all the reactionary values be destroyed by the war and they went out just asking questions, tasting and living each moment as it would be the last one. A highly creative time in poetry, paint, and music! In the end he showed that it is a period in our lives and it pass and you have to get along with it, if not, if you get stuck and don't grow, you will be left behind. It is life!

    The movie is an intense character driven movie, based on the scroll version, as well the biographies, interviews, tapes, 5 years of making documentary, books, musics, paints... but just based... because it is clear that he, Riveras and the actors deconstructed all and improvised mostly all! Most have being said about Garrett acting and Kristen's also but all the cast is amazing. Sam Riley was a huge surprise for me! He got me since the first second of the movie and it was him that I followed until the end! Tom did an amazing job!!! Never had seen him in anything before and man... He has gotten my attention now! Alice, Viggo, Elizabeth, Amy, Kirsten were incredible! Their moments are lessons of work of the art of acting! Garrett is really incredible! Of course his character is the one who gives the actor the most chance to show his chops but he took the chance and brought it on! His Dean is everything Walter wanted to transmit in his vision of Youth and The Beats. In some moments he seems hypnotized in a tranzy. Now... Kristen! Kristen disappeared! The only WOMAN in the silver screen was Marylou! She got the voice tone, she got the moves... I have to be honest with you guys... I was very disturbed by that actress who was soooo open and sexual! I was not expecting at all this feeling! It was like see a daughter... It was very disturbing... I could not recognized that woman! I think it is the most huge compliment I could give to her! She really became something that I could not see any trace of her! She really brought Lu Anne to the screen and show that Lu Annes was the most of them who lived the Beat spirit! She was not there following the men, she was there on her own therms. A free spirit, without preconception or fear or angst but just curious and living! She was doing what she wanted and the moment she decided she was done with that period of her life, she said I done, it is not the future that I want and left. Kristen's improvisation on that scene in the car that Walter talks about a lot is really amazing! Outstanding!

    I don't agree with the critics that say it is long. It is not! Is it sometimes episodic? Yes it is, but every one of the scenes had to be there, because it was in the book and these characters had a huge importance on the Beat Generation. Forget all you have read, because it is Walter's vision and its sustained by its self as a piece of work! It is very beautiful, amazingly acted, shows human reactions, deceptions, angsty, dreams, happiness, pain, friendship, creativity, beauty, colour, tones! Shows a moment in history but most of all shows the real people on who was based the characters. Full of life and creativity but selfish and in-consequent!
    Full Review »
  2. Mar 15, 2013
    8
    It must have been difficult for Walter Salles to adapt a timeless and acclaimed novel as "On The Road" by Jack Kerouac. The result is a fascinating and punctual film that very well describe the heart and soul of the beat generation and the emotional journey of Sal Paradise-Jack Kerouac(Sam Riley) and the decisive meeting with the free-spirited and deeply chaotic Dean Moriarty-Neal Cassidy (Garret Hedlund) with his wife Marylou (Kristen Stewart),whom he had a very troubled relationship. The film also introduces other key characters as Carlo Marx-Allen Ginsberg (Tom Sturridge), famous poet of the beat generation Camille-Carolyn Cassidy (Kirsten Dunst), second Moriarty's wife and Old Bull Lee-William S.Borroughs (Viggo Mortensen), poet and artist. The film manages to express the feelings and emotions of the two leading characters played extremely well by Sam Riley and Garrett Hedlund. As for Kristen Stewart, her performance is really good even though her role doesn't offer much memorable scenes in terms of acting. Nevertheless, she is able to express her inner desire of a normal life with children. Tom Sturridge is also very well involved and plays effectively his role with some important scenes. Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst are really amazing in their limited screen times. Particularly, Dunst was truly commanding in a scene involving her and Hedlund arguing about father's duties. Walter Salles creates a suggestive atmosphere that is one of the winning point of his adaptation. Nonetheless, the films is a little difficult to follow due to his prolongation in some adventures of the two men. The soundtrack is another important element in the film and express the situation involving Sal and Dean. My vote is 8/10. Full Review »
  3. Dec 26, 2012
    4
    For a movie that was meant to take us on a wild ride with idols from the spontaneous beat culture, it sure does follow a familiar road map. Always maintaining the same route and never attempting to venture out into an uncharacteristic art form, On the Road proves to be an underwhelming and disappointing road film, on many levels. This is primarily due to the narrow screenplay that sticks to that aforementioned, familiar path; and the dull central presence of Full Review »