Friday, May 11, 2012

Cannes 2012 Official Selection Preview - On The Road by Walter Salles

Since I learned about this film, long before Cannes, I became apprehensive as is not easy for me to imagine a very American story in the hands of a Brazilian director that hasn't done movies in non-Portuguese language that move me. Add that project has been regarded for decades as one of the most elusive unmade movies since 1957 when Warner Brothers offered to buy the rights to Francis Ford Coppola in 1979 buying the film rights to Jack Kerouac's classic novel with the same name and you get apprehensive and nervous.

Seems that screenplay took about 4 years to complete and there was a "war" between the Salles team and the father/son Coppolas and to be honest I find quite interesting the story of how this film has been unmade for 55 years, at least more than the story I can imagine will be told from Kerouac's novel that I found to be extremely complex yet fascinating.

So my expectations are quite low in almost every sense except when it comes to the very interesting cast. Starring Sam Riley an actor that simply blew my mind in amazing Anton Corbijn's Control plus THAT actress that I follow long before she became a celebrity, Kristen Stewart, and hopes improve. Plus film has to be peppered with good performances by well-known actors like Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams, Viggo Mortensen, Elizabeth Moss, Terrence Howard, and Steve Buscemi. Still, we have to see what Salles managed to do with them.

One thing I'm sure about this film, that will not have anything to do with mainstream commercial movies as everything about this film suggest arty film, including being in competition at Cannes. So, there has to be a reason why film was selected to the most famous festival and this makes me VERY curious plus gives me hope of having a good cinematic experience when finally I watch it. After all hope is the last to die.

Last have to consider that Salles seems to be specialized in "road movies" as almost all of his honored films tell this kind of stories; consequently this is his best credential to hope that On The Road -obviously a road movie- will be a great film. See following synopsis.

New York, the late 1940's. After his father's death, Sal Paradise, an aspiring 24- year old writer, meets Dean Moriarty, a 20-year old ex-jailbird with flexible morals and a devastating charm. Dean is fascinated by Sal's obsession with writing; Sal is fascinated by Dean's unfettered freedom. They spend their intense, alcohol-fueled nights dreaming of another world, forming a Friendship that will take them on the road across the USA. After a stay at Bull Lee's place in Louisiana, Sal, Dean and his beautiful young wife Marylou form a merry threesome, traveling naked and freely enjoying themselves, a suspended moment in time.

So after going from negative to positive what exactly do I expect from this movie? Great visuals from Eric Gautier that also worked with Salles in the Motorcycle Diaries and trailer plus film stills promise them; also expect -or hope- for a non-traditional narrative style (done in the editing room), hopefully interesting enough to find some similarities to the written style of the book -but I know this will be hard, still will be a great surprise. Last, good performances by actors that I know can do great character interpretations.

Salles in Cannes

With about 22 films Salles comes to Cannes relatively late, but we have to consider that most of his earlier work are documentaries or shorts; still is surprising to find that acclaimed Central Station didn't go to Cannes, but probably was because won the Golden Bear at 1998 Berlinale. His Cannes history starts in 1999 when he was a jury member for Short Films competition and came back in 2002 to again be a jury member at the main competition.

Is not until 2004 when he comes with a film, Diarios de Motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries) that was in competition and went to win the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury plus the Francois Chalais Award; comes back with a short in Paris Je T'Aime at Un Certain Regard and in 2007 with another short in Chacun son Cinema (To Each His Own Cinema) that was Out of Competition. Returns in 2008 with his acclaimed film Linha de Passe competing for the Palme d'Or.

No doubt that Salles has been around the festival circuit with great success, but his Cannes history seems too short to be significant; which means that he has only opportunities to impress and maybe, only maybe, he will impress with this movie and collect top honors. This is a film that I have to watch to give any recommendation, nevertheless is a Must Be Seen movie for me because one I actress that makes me watch everything she does.

Film Specs
Directed by Walter Salles
Written by José Rivera
Starring: Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams, Viggo Mortensen, Elizabeth Moss
Language: English
Nationality: Majority French (France, UK, USA, Brazil)
Runtime: 2h 17m
Production Year:  2011
NorthAmerican Rights: AMC Networks, jointly distributed by IFC Films and Sundance Selects

End Notes
On the Road at Cannes site go here.
Salles in Cannes go here.
Good Article go here.
Mk2 go here. Check great posters.
Movie Official site here.
Unifrance go here.

Last a fascinating map that shows the traveling by the man (Kerouac), the book and the movie.

Why the long post? When I was a very young kid I "found" the beat movement and I adopted as much as I could due to younger age; stayed with me until The Beatles came to America, then EVERYTHING changed. The movie theme is very emotional for me. Sigh.

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