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Howl (15)

The critical consensus

A heady tribute that lets Allen Ginsberg’s Beat poem do all the talking and gives Franco another chance to shine.

****(*)Matt Mueller, Total Film, 18/02/2011

Howl serves as a well-crafted and accessible introduction to one of the 20th Century's greatest poets.

*****Scott McKellar, The Skinny, 18/02/2011

With a frustrating format and poor animation, it's still worth it for Franco and the chance to engage with a key work of poetry.

***(*)(*)Adam Smith, Empire Online, 21/02/2011

Does the resulting movie work? Not quite. Is it watchable? Yes.

***(*)(*)Nigel Andrews, Financial Times, 23/02/2011

James Franco does an excellent impersonation of Ginsberg but the film doesn't capture enough of Howl's terrors.

***(*)(*)Sukhdev Sandhu, The Telegraph, 24/02/2011

The film's sincerity is beyond doubt, but that's not much use to anyone, converted or otherwise.

**(*)(*)(*)Anthony Quinn, The Independent, 25/02/2011

It's decently acted, particularly by Franco, who is always watchable. But it fails to engage the heart and the question of why we should read Ginsberg now is unanswered.

**(*)(*)(*)Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, 24/02/2011

Part surreal dreamscape, part character study and all entertainment.

****(*)Daily Record, 25/02/2011

Sadly, I found it only moderately enjoyable and rather smug, much like an average edition of the BBC's Arena.

Philip French, The Observer, 27/02/2011

Howl is well acted, respectful and certainly educational, but it doesn't quite add up to a film.

Nicholas Barber, The Independent on Sunday, 27/02/2011

Like someone says in the film, you can't translate poetry, that's why it's poetry.

***(*)(*)Siobhan Synnot, The Scotsman, 01/03/2011

The occasionally clumsy animated translation of the poem is overly literal but still diverting, and Epstein and Friedman should be commended for bringing Howl to a new generation.

***(*)(*)Anna Rogers, The List, 02/03/2011

You’ll need to be a hardened verse fan to get through some of the longer scenes in which Franco’s Ginsberg performs his beat poetry in clubs.

***(*)(*)Alison Rowat, The Herald, 03/03/2011

It neither nails in any satisfyingly artistic way what made the epic poem so groundbreaking, nor convincingly dramatises its genesis beyond stating the obvious. What it has going for it is James Franco's central performance as Ginsberg.

***(*)(*)Alistair Harkness, The Scotsman, 05/03/2011

Howl is far more than just a checklist of a life, and biopics have been crying out for reinvention like this.

Paul Greenwood, Evening Times, 10/03/2011

Features about Howl (15)

Sundance opener Howl dramatises obscenity trial of Allen Ginsberg's poem

Barbara Adams, The List, 12/01/2011

James Franco stars in Ginsberg biopic Howl--interview

Kaleem Aftab, The List, 17/02/2011

Allen Ginsberg's 'Howl': 'I scribbled magic lines from my real mind'

Mick Brown, The Telegraph, 18/02/2011

The Beats have had a bad rap but Howl lets their words speak for themselves

John Patterson, The Guardian, 19/02/2011

Allen Ginsberg, Howl and the voice of the Beats

Hermione Hoby, The Guardian, 23/02/2011

Where and when?

General release. Check local listings for show times.

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