Poem turned into beautiful, heartfelt film

Courtesy Oscilloscope

Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s film “Howl” is based on Allen Ginsberg’s seminal and potentially unlawful diatribe against the state of society in the 1950s.

The poem by the same name was written in three parts, as is the film. They include a biopic of Ginsberg (a stunning James Franco); a legal drama regarding the obscenity lawsuit brought against the poem’s publisher, Lawrence Ferlinghetti; and an illustrated version of the work itself, perhaps the most epic poem since Homer’s “Odyssey.”

Franco absolutely nails Ginsberg. His characterization is flawless, despite looking nothing like the author, and Jon Hamm and David Strathairn are fantastic in the roles of opposing counsel in the obscenity trial. Bob Balaban is notably understated as the trial’s judge, and Mary-Louise Parker and Jeff Daniels’ brief cameos as witnesses for the prosecution are high points.

Much can be said about the illustrations accompanying Franco’s recitation of “Howl;” they are as literal as can be, but it is a shrewd choice as many audience members may not have been exposed to the poem before.

The film’s most egregious flaw comes with its pacing. It is inexplicably slow at times, particularly during the reading of the poem, but it never manages to become truly dull.

The sheer intensity of the performances easily compensates for any lackluster pacing, and dramatization of the obscenity trial is staggering, not only for the actors participating but for the importance of the outcome.

“Howl” has its flaws, but they are not insurmountable.

It is a beautiful, heartfelt film.

Sarah B. Pilchick may be contacted at sbpilchick@themiamihurricane.com.

Rating: 3/4 stars

Released: Oct. 22

Starring: James Franco, David Strathairn, Jon Hamm

Directed By: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman

MPAA Rating: Unrated

October 24, 2010


Sarah B. Pilchick

Senior EDGE Writer

Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • Error

The University of Miami has a starting quarterback. On Tuesday, 11 days before the 2017 home opener, ...

Mark Richt, pleased and seemingly confident about his selection of redshirt junior Malik Rosier as t ...

Once known as ‘Quarterback U,’ the Miami Hurricanes have a spotty record of producing top signal cal ...

View photos from the Miami Hurricanes' football practice on Tues., Aug. 22, 2017 … Click to Con ...

Duke Johnson, the all-time leading rusher in Miami Hurricanes history, was one of a dozen members of ...

Students and faculty gathered at the Rock to catch a glimpse of the solar eclipse. ...

UM’s new chief academic officer holds some 40 patents, and in 2017 was inducted into the National Ac ...

University of Miami students and researchers are blogging during a month-long expedition in the Gulf ...

The University of Miami has embarked on an ambitious 10-year housing plan that will transform the st ...

María de Lourdes Dieck-Assad, a world-renowned economist and former ambassador, fills a new role for ...

RSS Error: A feed could not be found at http://www.hurricanesports.com/. A feed with an invalid mime type may fall victim to this error, or SimplePie was unable to auto-discover it.. Use force_feed() if you are certain this URL is a real feed.

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.