Howl (2010)

Starring James Franco in a career-defining performance as Allen Ginsberg, HOWL is the story of how the young poet's seminal work broke down societal barriers in the face of an infamous public obscenity trial. In his famously… More

Rated: R
Running Time:
Release Date: September 24, 2010
DVD Release Date: January 4, 2011
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Critic Score: 62% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews

Consensus: James Franco gives it his all as beat poet Allen Ginsberg, but Howl never develops enough of a focus to do his performance justice.

Tom Huddleston
Time Out

This is a bold, inspiring piece of work, putting experimental techniques in the service of a heartfelt, insightful and surprisingly audience-friendly work of art.

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Ann Hornaday
Washington Post

What could have been a trivial exercise in nostalgia instead becomes a powerful case for the cathartic power of art.

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Martin Tsai
Critic's Notebook

Still, the biggest problem with "Howl" is the fact that none of its parallel narratives build to much of a climax.

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Tom Long
Detroit News

It's sweet stuff, a portrait of an artist in turmoil, under fire and laying himself bare. Howl captures Howl beautifully.

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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times

Epstein and Friedman didn't write the film as much as assemble it, using actual interview quotes and court transcripts. And while the loose structure takes some getting used to, it's ultimately effective and at times thrilling.

Blake Griffin
We Got This Covered

Howl is invigoratingly fresh. It has compelling filmmaking, a great script and tremendous acting from all involved.

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Todd McCarthy

Admirable if fundamentally academic.

Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald

Howl is a disappointingly mundane movie about a vibrant, iconoclastic subject.

Roger Moore
Tribune News Service

Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman attracted Hollywood talent, had an epic poem and a classic culture clash as their subject and still produced a corpse from it.

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More reviews for Howl

Flixster Audience Score: 58% Flixster User Reviews
Spencer S.
This is definitely on the side of experimental, when it comes to former documentary filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman ("The Trail of Harvey… More
Louis Rogers
Succeeds on the strengths of 1) James Franco's absorbing and committed performance, and 2) The brilliance of the source material. However, the central… More
Josh Morris
Howl is a surprisingly academic and dry take on a passionate artist and work: Allen Ginsberg and Howl. James Franco is impressively committed, and gives a… More
Jim Hunter
Allen Ginsberg's poem "Howl" is put on trial for obscenity. <i>Howl</i> is basically a biographical gloss of the poem… More
Thomas Johnston
Having never been able to understand and appreciate poetry, I found myself pulled into a poets heart and soul. It did take a little time to begin feeling my… More
Melvin White
Jake Ehrlich: The battle of censorship will not be finally settled by your honor's decision, but you will either add to liberal-educated thinking, or by… More