When Truman Capote heard that Jack Kerouac had typed “On the Road” without rewrites on one continuous roll of paper cranked through his typewriter, Capote supposedly said: “That's not writing—that's typing.”
If anything, the biopic “Big Sur,” premiering at Sundance suffers from too much polish and too little motion.
Director/screenwirter Michael Polish's lushly filmed “Bg Sur” picks up Kerouac's life a few years after “On the Road” catapulted Karouac to fame. He's become an American icon (and a beatnik caricature) battling black moods, alcohol and writer's block.
Jack (Jean-Marc Barr) heads out for Lawrence's Ferlinghetti's rude cabin at Big Sur to heal. Unfortunately—to take the movie at its word—Jack learns upon arriving in San Francisco that his cat has died. The news sends him on on a bender fueled by cheap port wine, cigarettes and self pity.
For the rest of the movie, Jack stumbles around in front of incredibly beautiful scenery and a cast dressed in full-on “Mad Men” style and driving classic '50s automobiles. Beset by his demons, delirium tremors, Neil Cassidy's annoying mistress and cosmos-shaking hangovers, Jack spews forth a torrent of not-half-bad prose that becomes his 1961 novel “Big Sur.”
Spoiler alert: The film ends on a happy note.
Jan. 23, 9:45 p.m., Eccles Theatre, Park City
Jan. 24, 8:30 a.m., The MARC, Park City
Jan. 25, 9:30 p.m., Peery's Egyptan Theater, Ogden
Jan. 26, 9:30 p.m., Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center