In a little over a week from now, a huge slate of new and impressive films will hit Sundance—and we couldn’t be more excited. Although a select few we’ve been lucky enough to screen already, there are plenty in the lineup we’re anticipating—not only for ourselves but for audiences to get thrilled about. Hopefully, the festival’s exposure will have distributors snatching up projects, but so far, the one’s we’re looking forward to are: The East, Upstream Color, The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, Fill the Void, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, C.O.G, Before Midnight, Interior.Leather Bar., and now, the latest from Michael Polish, Big Sur. Adapted from the Jack Kerouac novel of the same title, the film stars Kate Bosworth, Jean-Marc Barr, Bathazar Getty and will focus on:
…a moment in Jack Kerouac’s life when, overwhelmed by the success of his opus On the Road and struggling with alcoholism, he retreats to his publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s cabin in the small, coastal California town of Big Sur, which eventually inspires his 1962 novel of the same name. Kerouac’s time begins with quiet moments of solitude and communing with nature. But, struck by loneliness, he hightails it to San Francisco, where he resumes drinking heavily and gets pushed into a relationship with his best friend Neal Cassady’s mistress, Billie.
While writer/director Michael Polish (Twin Falls Idaho) explores a less glamorous moment in Kerouac’s legacy—one of alienation and mental breakdown—Big Sur equally examines the beauty of this time in the writer’s life, witnessed in the romance of friendship and the purity of nature. Jean-Marc Barr embodies Kerouac’s intelligence and masculinity, but also portrays him at his most contemplative and vulnerable. Luscious and breathtaking, Big Sur approaches a religious cinematic experience.
When adapting a novel to the screen, the point is breathe fresh life into the narrative, to pick up where the prose left off creatively. You want the audience to be able to feel or envision what they could only imagine between the words of the novel—taking the brilliance of the text and bringing it to life, not simply doing a visual depiction each scene. That is, unfortunately, where Walter Salles’ On the Road fell short—it paid tribute to Kerouac’s book but too much so, in the sense that it unfolded like a novel itself, not showing the cinematic possibilities of his breathless, stream-of-consciousness style. Hopefully, this will prove other wise.
As of now, Big Sur has yet to find a distributor but we’re looking forward to seeing where it heads out the gate from Sundance.