"Kristen!!" "Garrett!!" "Kristen!!!"
The catcalls bounced off the walls of the alcove outside the Ryerson Theatre last night as Kristen Stewart and Garrett Hedlund walked the red carpet before the North American premiere of Walter Salles On the Road.
Rabid but supportive fans ("Kristen, we love you come over here!") packed into the near side of the carpet. Inquisitive journalists packed the near side. And throngs of curious onlookers blocked the sidewalks and streets of Gerrard Street in Toronto, hoping to catch a glimpse of the TIFF circus that has taken over their town.
Film festival volunteers earned their pay on this night, as technical difficulties meant the screening started an hour behind schedule (which, at any fest, creates a logjam of problems down the road … no pun intended).
Once the film got underway, audiences easily plugged into the film's free-flowing vibe. Salles and his handsome young cast have tackled Jack Kerouac's seminal novel about road-tripping in the late 1940s in search of creative inspiration. Stewart's actually the third leg of a love triangle, though not between Jacob and Edward, per usual.
Instead, she plays Mary Lou, the ex-wife of head beatnik Dean Moriarty (Hedlund, the strong-jawed and likeable leader of the pack), who is just one of the many caught under Dean's casual spell. Together with narrator and struggling novelist Sal Paradise (an impressive Sam Riley), they criss-cross the country in search of the next great experience, seeking an authentic reaction – and relying on a lot of manufactured substances to help them find it.
Audiences checking out Road are going to see a completely different, altogether sexual side of Stewart – an actress eager to mature now that her Breaking Dawn commitments are drawing to a close. On the Road demands its cast act racy, mainlining drugs and sampling sex as if it were the job description of this disenfranchised and wayward youth culture. Stellar production values and leveled performances elevate Road beyond a simple art-house American Pie movie, however, and Salles demonstrates impressive directorial control over a movie that easily could have followed its restless spirits right off the track.
On the Road will open in limited release on Dec. 21. Tell us, Stewart fans. Are you planning on checking it out?