On the Road

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On the Road Reviews

Image Gregory Smith.
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Show-stealer Viggo Mortensen channels William Burroughs with relish. - Tara Brady, The Irish Times

On the Road Reviews

...but it's Viggo Mortensen who steals not only his scenes but the film, with a brilliantly unhinged performance as Old Bull Lee, Kerouac's pseudonym for writer William Burroughs.Mortensen's performance has the genuine, and ferocious, frisson of inhabitation that the biopic demands: alternately gun-crazy, butt naked and sharply observant.

Sophie Mayer
12 October 2012

One could watch an entire movie of Viggo Mortensen playing Bull, a sharp-dressed heroin addict who nods off with his child in his arms and strips off his clothes to get in an orgone accumulator he built in his backyard.

Jenni Miller
10 December 2012

Viggo Mortensen plays Old Bull Lee (Kerouac's fictional version of William S. Burroughs) with more depth and deftness than any other actor in the film...

The Economist
24 October 2012

Mortensen steals the show with a perfect Bill Burroughs drawl....

Jonathan Romney
The Independent
14 October 2012

In a brilliant cameo, Mortensen gets Burroughs's flat, wry voice exactly right as he denounces Moriarty as psychotic, exposes how the English translation of Voyage au bout de la nuit bowdlerises CĂ©line's original, and hilariously demonstrates his version of Wilhelm Reich's ludicrous, once fashionable orgone boxes for the control of psychic energy.

Philip French
The Observer
14 October 2012

...but it's Viggo Mortensen who steals not only his scenes but the film, with a brilliantly unhinged performance as Old Bull Lee, Kerouac's pseudonym for writer William Burroughs.

Sophie Mayer
12 October 2012

Show- stealer Viggo Mortensen channels William Burroughs with relish.

Tara Brady
The Irish Times
12 October 2012

The supporting cast is tremendous: Kristen Stewart's restless child-bride, Viggo Mortensen's Burroughs surrogate and Kirsten Dunst's trapped Camille all make vivid impressions, as does Tom Sturridge's funny, lonely Carlo (the Ginsberg figure).

Tim Robey
The Telegraph
11 October 2012

The encounters with Old Bull (Viggo Mortensen) provide some of the most enjoyable moments where a faint echo of Kerouac's typewriter can be heard invoking the spirit of a generation in search of life that both embraced and defied the American dream.

Joe Walsh
Cine Vue
10 October 2012

Viggo Mortensen's Old Bull Lee is perfect in his grizzly, strung-out-on-heroin brand of isolation.

Julien Hawthorne
Colombia Spectator
13 January 2013

Of those men, all the Beat icons, only Viggo Mortensen's William Burroughs makes a strong impression, albeit only fleetingly in a brief cameo. Unlike the others, Burroughs is a stay-at-home fellow at this point, but what a home (a crumbling abode in the Louisiana bayou) and what a fellow (by turns brilliantly incisive and demonstrably unhinged). Again, the balance inadvertently shifts ? we'd rather forego the highway to stick with William and his William Tell act.

Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
18 January 2013

And Viggo Mortensen (as the Burroughs surrogate) does an uncanny job of reproducing Burroughs' well-known voice, while capturing the whole of the character as well as (or better than) Peter Weller in "Naked Lunch." Very little of the book's humor comes across on screen, and Mortensen manages to provide what little there is.

Andy Klein
Glendale News
5 January 2013

The real Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs (played here by Viggo Mortensen as "Old Bull Lee") lived long enough to become vivid figures in their own right in documentaries and performances of their work, so portraying them onscreen is no easy feat. Kudos to Sturridge and Mortensen, then, for avoiding caricature.

The Chicago Tribune
21 December 2012

Amongst the colourful characters encountered during the trio's several journeys is the William Burroughs-inspired, morphine-addicted Old Bull Lee (a gleefully entertaining performance from Viggo Mortensen) and his brittle wife (Amy Adams) who will all be immortalised in the thinly disguised fiction Sal will ultimately write.

Mark Naglazas
West Australian
29 September 2012

Viggo Mortensen's trigger-happy junkie Old Bull Lee (aka William Burroughs) is another high.

James Mottram
Total Film
2 October 2012

...Viggo Mortensen is purely glorious playing a thinly-veiled William Burroughs, the trio's wise but wonky mentor.

Xan Brooks
The Guardian
23 May 2012

...and Viggo Mortensen amusingly nails William Burroughs' dry, paint-chip voice in the role of Old Bull Lee, a Burroughs-esque junkie already deep into violence and paranoia.

Owen Gleiberman's
Entertainment Weekly
23 May 2012

Supporting characters stun: Viggo Mortensen giving his usual all and total depth to a few minor scenes, Amy Adams coming a little unhinged, Kirsten Dunst breaking your heart.

Fred Topal
Crave online
7 September 2012

Viggo Mortensen, priceless in Old Bull Lee / William Burroughs, highly intelligent and completely smoky.

Norbert Creutz
Le Temps
26 May 2012

The show is stolen in eccentric style by Viggo Mortensen and Amy Adams, playing characters based on William Burroughs and his wife...

Jonathan Romney
The Independent
27 May 2012

Even though the Beats were expert at perpetuating their own PR (so much of their work is about how great they all are) they were, you know, just guys. Young guys who thought they knew a lot more about life than they actually did. (That is, except for the spaced-out sage William Burroughs, played for marvelous laughs in quick scenes by Viggo Mortensen).

Jordan Hoffman
7 September 2012

...I would love to see a whole movie about Old Bull Lee, played by Viggo Mortensen, who does a spot-on William Burroughs here.

Drew McWeeny
23 May 2012

The other actors hit their notes effectively, particularly Mortensen and Sturridge as the respective alter egos of William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg.

Justin Chang
23 May 2012

Viggo Mortensen makes things jump with his sepulchral growl as Old Bull Lee (William S. Burroughs)

Manohla Dargis
The New York Times
23 May 2012

The most fun appearance by far is Viggo Mortensen's work as William Burroughs doppelgänger Bull Lee.

Ben Kenigsberg
Time Out Chicago
23 May 2012

The supporting cast of Tom Sturridge, Kirsten Dunst, Danny Morgan, Alice Braga, Elizabeth Moss, Amy Adams, Viggo Mortensen and Steve Buscemi -- each has their own stand-out moment, as if they're riffing their own solo in an ensemble.

Jerry Cimino
Huffinton Post
23 May 2012

And Viggo Mortensen and Amy Adams play the book's stand-ins for William S. Burroughs and Jane Vollmer with drugged-up grit and gravel, a cautionary tale about to happen.

James Rocchi
23 May 2012

...Viggo Mortensen is two-for-two in portraying esteemed intellectuals lately ? he follows his role as A Dangerous Method's Sigmund Freud with an appropriately cracked take on William S. Burroughs here. Dispensing heroin-addled wisdom in a gravelly drawl while firing off a pistol, he injects a spark of life into the veins of a film that needs it bad.

National Public Radio
24 May 2012

...older thespians like Viggo Mortensen (nailing a spot-on William S. Burroughs) and Steve Buscemi pop up to add a touch of classy decrepitude.

Steven Garrett
New York Observer
24 May 2012

But spare attention too for Viggo Mortensen. He gets two minutes in which to draw a spot-on caricature of William Burroughs.

Nigel Andrews
Financial Times
26 May 2012

...there are several excellent cameos - both Viggo Mortensen and Amy Adams are inspired choices as Old Bull Lee and his wife Jane.

Gail Tolley
The List
25 May 2012

Viggo Mortensen and Amy Adams shine briefly as the represented William Burroughs and wife Joan Vollmer...

Dan Mecca
The Film Stage
25 May 2012

...highlights include Amy Adams in the role of Jane who sweeps the cobwebs from the trees, her equally as mad husband Old Bull Lee played by a quirky Viggo Mortensen, and Kirsten Dunst's Camille, neglected wife and mother to two of Dean's children.

Charlie David Page
11 June 2012

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Last edited: 28 June 2014 09:07:04

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