Although a fine cast is assembled for Heart Beat, no one can rise above the insipid script, loosely based on the relationships between Neal Cassady (Nick Nolte), Carolyn Cassady (Sissy Spacek), and Jack Kerouac (John Heard). Ray Sharkey plays Ira Streiker, a thinly (if not transparently) disguised caricature of Allen Ginsberg. The highlights of the film are the set designs, the cool jazz score, and the expert cinematography of Laszlo Kovacs. Kerouac drifts in and out of the Cassadys' life before he hits it big with his first critically acclaimed literary work On The Road. John Larroquette plays a television talk-show host who helps further the writer's career. The film gives no insight on the characters nor does it accurately gauge the influence of the Beat Generation on society and writers in general. Those interested in the more factual aspects of Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation writers and poets should skip this film and read the Anne Charters biography or the works of the writers themselves. In real life, the once free-spirited Kerouac ended up an alcoholic, right-wing fanatic before his death - in diametric opposition to the social upheaval of the 1960s that were directly influenced by his work.