Watch Neal Cassady
- 1 hr 20 min
Neal Cassady is a biographical film from 2007 that looks at the life and legacy of the iconic Beat Generation figure Neal Cassady. The film stars Tate Donovan as Cassady, alongside Amy Ryan and Glenn Fitzgerald in supporting roles. The film is a thoughtful and nuanced exploration of Cassady's life and his impact on the cultural landscape of the 1950s and 60s.
Throughout the film, we are taken on a nonlinear journey through Cassady's life, beginning with his youth in Denver, Colorado, where he grew up as the son of migrant workers. As a young man, Cassady was a restless spirit, constantly seeking new experiences and adventures. He quickly became enamored with the world of literature and poetry, and it was through his friendships with fellow writers like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg that he would eventually become a critical part of the Beat Generation.
The film explores Cassady's relationships with Kerouac (played by Josh Hamilton) and Ginsberg (Ron Livingston), as well as his rocky marriage to Carolyn (Ryan). Cassady was known for his charismatic personality and his tendency to encapsulate the liberating spirit of the Beat Generation, and the film does an excellent job of capturing both his charm and his flaws.
One of the most compelling elements of the film is the way it places Cassady's life in the context of the wider cultural milieu of the time. As Cassady becomes more deeply involved in the Beat scene, he becomes increasingly drawn to the ideas of Eastern religion and spirituality, and the film explores this fascination with a delicacy that allows the viewer to better understand Cassady's complex worldview.
The film is shot in a highly stylized manner, with a heavy emphasis on bright, vivid colors and rapid-fire editing. This approach gives the film a distinct visual style that perfectly captures the frenetic energy of Cassady's life. However, the film also knows when to slow things down, and there are several poignant moments that are shot with a quiet, meditative beauty.
The performances in the film are uniformly excellent. Tate Donovan is utterly magnetic as Cassady, bringing an infectious energy and a nuanced vulnerability to the role. Amy Ryan is also fantastic as Carolyn, Cassady's long-suffering wife who is struggling to come to terms with the reality of her husband's choices. Glenn Fitzgerald is another standout, bringing a quiet intellectualism to his portrayal of Kerouac.
Ultimately, Neal Cassady is a fascinating and thoroughly engrossing biopic that explores the life of a cultural figure who played a significant role in shaping the literary and spiritual movements of the mid-twentieth century. Whether you are a fan of Beat literature or simply interested in exploring the life of a complex and enigmatic individual, this film is well worth seeking out.