Narrator Film Review: One the Road + One Kerouac Haiku

The Narrator’s resident film buff, Ann Lewinson, brings us a review of On the Road, the latest cinematic take on Jack Kerouac’s ultimate road writings. But in the spirit of National Poetry Month, we also wanted to drop a little-known Kerouac haiku on you.

So, everyone knows Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road. But did you know he was a cat lover? In fact, the love of his life for a pretty long time was Tyke, a glossy feline he wrote about in his memoir Big Sur. In honor of his love for cats, Kerouac contributed this haiku to American Haiku‘s 1959 publication:

Holding up my
purring cat to the moon
I sighed.

Syllabic questions aside, it’s something to chew on when you see On the Road.  Enjoy!

Director Walter Salles and screenwriter José Rivera have done to Jack Kerouac’s countercultural bible what they did to Che Guevera’s Motorcycle Diaries: turn it into a bland coming-of-age movie about pretty people. Its chief liability is its prettiest: Garrett Hedlund’s Dean Moriarty, hardly the Holy Goof, whose charisma resides solely in a rumbling baritone. As the author’s stand-in, Sam Riley (Control‘s fine Ian Curtis) similarly lacks fire; Kristen Stewart, too old to play a 15-year-old sexpot, bobs her anachronistically coiffed head like Claire Danes. (Supporting players fair better, particularly Kirsten Dunst’s abandoned wife and Viggo Mortensen’s dead-on William Burroughs.)

The source is Kerouac’s unexpurgated scroll, with asides from the Beat chicks (women make the coffee, into which men smash Benzedrine inhalers); the tempo episodic, with too little time spent digging the raptures of the open road; and the moralistic distortion of the novel’s ending strictly from Squaresville.

Ann reviews films for the Boston PhoenixThe Kansas City Star, and other publications and is a member of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists and the Boston Society of Film Critics. She  also leads a NYWC workshop  for youth at The Door.