The Motorcycle Diaries director Walter Salles revives the 'beat' generation with the long-awaited screen adaptation of Jack Kerouac's zeitgeist-capturing novel. British star Sam Riley plays Kerouac's alter-ego Sal Paradise, the aimless young writer who hooks up with carefree spirit Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund) and his best girl MaryLou (Kristen Stewart) to seek out the post-war American dream. With the open road in front of them and the likes of Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Steve Buscemi and Amy Adams along for the ride, could the journey get any cooler?
There's no doubt that Jack Kerouac's autobiographical 1957 novel On The Road defined a generation - the 'Beat generation' as he termed it, a literary movement driven by sex, drugs, poetry and jazz (rock'n'roll being in its infancy).
Less controversial and a sight easier to follow than Allen Ginsberg's Howl and William Burroughs' Naked Lunch, On The Road remains the Beats' most accessible insight into the unsettled mindset of America's post-war youth.
It's 1947 and brooding writer Sal (Riley, Control) is stuck in an existential rut. But his eyes and mind are opened when his poet buddy Carlo (Riley's fellow Brit, Tom Sturridge) introduces him to Dean Moriarty (Hedlund), an irresistible force of nature on a relentless search for kicks - be they sexual, musical or narcotic.
Inspired by his new best friend, Sal grabs his backpack and hits the road to discover what's out there, and maybe find himself while doing it.
Thus begins a three-year odyssey during which Sal drifts back and forth between the coasts for the ultimate American experience, initially alone but mostly with Dean (the alter-ego of Kerouac's friend Neal Cassady) and his equally uninhibited teenage wife MaryLou (a flesh-flashing Stewart).