2014 / Director. Michael Polish.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
During my formative years, when I was discovering all of the various arts and artists, I had a fascination with Jack Kerouac. Upon reflection I am sure that I was initially drawn to the whole concept of Kerouac, rather than his writing itself, but over the years the true importance of his work became clear. If you're unfamiliar with him you should look him up. Following the phenomenal success of his novel On The Road Kerouac became disconcerted with the fame that came with it. Needing a break from it all, he retreated to a small cabin at Bixby Canyon in Big Sur (California). During his time at the cabin he documented his every thought on paper and documented his own downward spiral into madness. It's an amazing book and one that has been deemed impossible to adapt into a film. So here it is... the film... and director Michael Polish has done the impossible. His adaptation of Big Sur is wonderful. He has approached the story with a fundamental truth and used Kerouac's own words to narrate. This is very much THE book in film form. It's a narrative from inside Kerouac's own head and all of the characters from within the book and their influence on him are depicted beautifully. The cast is great with Jean-Marc Barr in the lead as Kerouac himself (the resemblance is uncanny) and his ability to omit emotion through expression is amazing to watch. The support cast is strong too including Kate Bosworth, Josh Lucas, Anthony Edwards and Henry Thomas. Together with stunning cinematography, a soulful score and delicious spoken-word BIG SUR represents Kerouac's book as best that a film can. Making it all the more satisfying is the fact that the last Kerouac adaptation, ON THE ROAD, was bitterly disappointing. That film forced me to suspend all expectations for BIG SUR and left me feeling inspired and satisfied when the final credits rolled. What the film never reveals, however, is that Kerouac wrote the entire novel on one long piece of paper scroll. There's something about that that strikes me. It adds to the story's power and lends it a mystique. What a way he had with words... lovely.
FYI. I highly recommend the album ONE FAST MOVE OR I'M GONE by Benjamin Gibbard and Jay Farrar as well as the accompanying documentary that followed. The music is stunning and every song's lyrics are extractions from the book. Well well worth the purchase.