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Sudden fame and a self-destructive lifestyle were taking a toll on Jack Kerouac's mind and body following the unparalleled success of the groundbreaking novel, On The Road. Once the handsome literary maverick and hero of the Beat Generation, Kerouac now sees only a vestige of his former self, ravaged by alcohol and drugs, aged beyond his years and tormented by self-doubt. Questioning his talent, his faith, and his mortality, Kerouac leaves New York for California, on a quest for redemption at an isolated, fog-banked cabin in the primitive landscape of the Big Sur woods. What ensues in those fateful 3 weeks of August, 1960, is both terrifying and revelatory. While Kerouac is able to find beauty and elation in his surroundings, the dichotomy of his psyche renders him unable to face his demons alone. He sets off on a visceral collision course of paranoia, sex, delirium tremens, misery and madness. His desperation culminates in an intense, hallucinatory breakdown, but the duality of his ...Written by
"Big Sur" (2013), based on the 1962 book by the enigmatic Jack Kerouac, details the author's three retreats to a friend's cabin in the magnificent eponymous location a hundred miles south of San Francisco. Sometimes he's alone and sometimes he's with friends. Kerouac can't handle his fame and success as the leader of the beatniks and so descends into the darkness of alcohol addiction.
While this is a well-made artsy film featuring narrations from the author himself throughout, it's done in by its subject. At least with 1991's "The Doors," which chronicled Jim Morrison's downward spiral, we got great music, entertaining concert footage and colorful characters. "Big Sur," by contrast, only has Kerouac's stream-of-consciousness verbiage (i.e. "interior monologue") and the beautiful cinematography of Big Sur. Yes, it's professionally made with a quality cast and it kept my interest for the first 45-50 minutes, but then it just drones on to the bitter end. I hate seeing people waste their talents, especially by their own foolish addictions. Of course this is the only way the story COULD end since it's based on real life. Jack was dead at 47. Despite my criticisms, "Big Sur" is worthwhile if the topic interests you and the film's obviously a must for Kerouac fans; it will leave most everyone else bored or depressed.
Interestingly, it was 1957's "On the Road" that propelled Jack to beatnik stardom, but he later confessed it "was really a story about two Catholic buddies roaming the country in search of God. And we found him." Too bad his revelation didn't help him out with his increasing substance abuse.
The film runs a mere 81 minutes and was shot in Big Sur and San Francisco.
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