Kristen Stewart’s “On the Road,” her latest effort to distance herself from “Twilight character Bella Swan, is drawing mixed reviews at the Cannes Film Festival, where it’s competing for the prestigious Palme d’Or award.
The reviews are mostly from Europe and are generally giving the picture middling to low marks. But one of the few American reviews so far has been glowing.
The film was called “a beautiful and respectful adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s landmark novel that intermittently leaves the ground to take flight,” wrote The Hollywood Reporter. That’s about as good as it got.
The review gives high marks to Stewart, calling her “perfect.”
“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,” The THR reported.
The “Twilight” actress plays Marylou, the wife of Jack Kerouac’s sidekick Neal Cassady. In the book all of the main characters have pseudonyms. Cassady is Dean Moriarity (Garrett Hedlund); Kerouac himself is Sal Paradise (Sam Riley).
In contrast, Derek Malcolm of the London Evening Standard, doesn’t mention Stewart in his review. But he gives high marks to performances by Viggo Mortensen, who plays Beat poet William S. Burroughs and Kristen Dunst, who plays Camille.
The book was considered extremely hard to adapt to the big screen because it is made up of a series of unrelated stories, without a lot of dramatic tension. It’s based on a 1950s cross-country trip by Kerouac, ostensibly in search of himself and America. The movie is a whirlwind of sex, drugs and Sal sitting in a corner scribbling about it.
Critics felt the picture while faithful to the book, betrayed the spirit that Kerouac portrayed in the novel, according to MTV, which surveyed critics.
“Despite its pretty cast and sun-ripened colours, the film quickly settles into a tedious looping rhythm of Sal Paradise experiencing some kind of beatnik debauchery with co-wanderers Dean Moriarty and Marylou, before retiring to a shady corner and scribbling wildly in a notebook. Neither the journey nor the destination seems to matter a jot,” wrote Robbie Collin, of The Telegraph in London.
“‘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.” added Peter Bradshaw for The Guardian.
The movie is opening in Europe following the film festival. It won’t hit U.S. theaters until the fall.