End of the Road is the kind of cult film that sparks endless debate among viewers, who tend to be quite polarized by the film. Many, perhaps most, will tend to see it as pretentious, incomprehensible, horribly dated and intensely irritating. They will decry the way the creators have treated the original John Barth novel upon which it has been based, especially as Barth's work is about the quintessential '50s mindset whereas the film is positively drenched in the '60s. They will also decry the visual onslaught, especially during the first half-hour or so. But there will be others who feel that Road is an unjustly neglected masterpiece, a work of art that is of such intensely personal importance to its creators that it becomes universal. They will hail the visual onslaught as a reflection of the psychedelic times and will find depth, perception and dark, dark humor permeating every frame of the film, all in the service of an elusive but almost perceptible message. Reactions to the performers will likewise vary. Almost all will probably find Dorothy Tristan appealing and will think that Harris Yulin perfectly embodies the frustrated career academic who takes his frustrations out by withholding from his wife. They will, however, be divided over whether Stacy Keach in the incredibly difficult lead role is dull and boring or incisive and quietly compelling. And while all will recognize James Earl Jones's performance as being over the top, they will quarrel over whether it is delicious and delirious or annoying and aggravating. Whatever one's reaction, Road is a unique and unforgettable experience.
by Craig Butler review