Heart Beat never manages to expand its loosely biographical tale of Jack Kerouac, Neal and Carolyn Cassady beyond a very narrow scope.
Nick Nolte and Sissy Spacek, as the Cassadys enmeshed in a love-hate relationship, are standout in a film where performances dominate. Ditto Ray Sharkey, in a manic performance as a disguised Allen Ginsberg character. John Heard struggles manfully with the Kerouac character, but writer- director John Byrum has given him few compass points on which to base a reading.
Heat Beat fails to establish either a coherent story line, or a definitive treatment of the forces that shaped the literary and social explosion following publication of Kerouac’s On the Road in 1957.