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Downtown Drive-In Presents: On The Road

Based on Kerouac’s seminal Beat Generation novel, On The Road delivers a tantalising blend of sex, drugs, friendship and disillusioned yearning.
By Tom Glasson
October 24, 2012
By Tom Glasson
October 24, 2012

Jack Kerouac’s seminal novel on the Beat Generation of the 1950s was once labelled ‘the unfilmable story’, so for director Walter Salles simply getting it on screen was a feat worthy of credit. Salles obviously has a thing for classic road stories, too, having previously helmed the critically acclaimed Motorcycle Diaries (2004). And while On The Road isn’t quite as polished, it nonetheless delivers a tantalising blend of sex, drugs, friendship and disillusioned yearning.

On The Road tells the story of Sal Paradise, an aspiring young writer based on Kerouac’s own early experiences after he arrived in New York and struggled to discover a unique ‘voice’. Sal meets Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund from Tron) and is immediately drawn to the handsome and charming ex-con’s carefree lifestyle. Together with Sal’s young wife Marylou (Kristen Stewart), they embark on a road trip across America, criss-crossing from state to state by any means possible, including stolen cars.

Kerouac’s appealing but rambling prose works better in its written form, but Salles has done an admirable job in translating its freedom, frenzy and spirit to the big screen.

The cast (which also boasts Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams, Steven Buscemi and Viggo Mortensen) puts in a collection of fine performances, most notably Hedlund’s charismatic turn as Sal, and the glorious cinematography taunts you to kick the car into gear and explore your own horizon.

The team behind the much-anticipated event Downtown Drive-In has announced Carriageworks in Sydney’s Eveleigh, just three kilometres from the Sydney CBD, as the location for its three-night season, which will run from November 29 to December 1, 2012.

A seldom-used section of the 120-year-old heritage listed building will form the perfect backdrop for the Back Roads USA season of films. The films to be screened include On The RoadPlanes, Trains and Automobiles and Vanishing Point. Downtown Drive-In will also feature a custom menu with individual items designed by The Dip, Sydney’s favourite American-style diner, playfully paying tribute to the films and shared Americana settings and atmosphere. Major sponsor Audi will supply a range of luxury cars for the ultimate drive-in experience. The cars will also feature razor-sharp sound from audio partner Bang & Olufsen.

Entry into Downtown Drive-In will cost $50 for vehicles of up to four people. Walk-in deck chair seating is also available near the screen, at $25 per person. For more information on the film schedule, drive-in experience and participating partners, visit

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