This is a well cast movie – the stars look pretty similar to the people they’re portraying – with committed performances from all of the leads. I wanted to like it. But there a few big problems.
The mildest of spoilers.
For one thing, a brief search discovers potential inaccuracies. I understand that this film is from the point of view of Ginsberg, but I felt like they did not do enough to make the film seem like his creation, as opposed to an objective version of things. If you read anything about the case, it sure seems like this version of the case is likely not the true version. (There’s likely an artistic reason for this choice, but it’s not made clear. You have to assume the filmmakers made this choice based upon the nature of the Beats’ artistic preferences, and that seems like a step too far for me.)
There seems to be some implication in the film that the pranks these kids pulled, and the artistic daring they supposedly got up to, led to the murder. I think that’s bullshit and I think a 2013 film should have a much more nuanced approach to this subject matter. Intellectual precociousness is not a path to murder. Give me a break. That idea was stupid in the 1950s, it’s willfully ignorant now.
Finally, the film incorporates a bunch of techniques into it that I guess are supposed to reflect the Beats’ intellectual and artistic precociousness. But these techniques are standard film techniques at this point and, rather than feeling radical or a fitting accompaniment to the intellectual revolution we’re supposedly witnessing (we get pranks more than anything else), they feel clunky and unnecessary.
- Directed by John Krokidas
- Produced by Michael Benaroya, Christine Vachon, Rose Ganguzza, Jared Ian Goldman, John Krokidas
- Screenplay by John Krokidas, Austin Bunn
- Story by Austin Bunn
- Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg
- David Cross as Louis Ginsberg
- Dane DeHaan as Lucien Carr
- Ben Foster as William S. Burroughs
- Michael C. Hall as David Kammerer
- Jack Huston as Jack Kerouac
- Jennifer Jason Leigh as Naomi Ginsberg
- Elizabeth Olsen as Edie Parker
- John Cullum as Professor Harrison Ross Steeves
- David Rasche as Dean of Columbia University
- Kyra Sedgwick as Marian Carr
- Zach Appelman as Luke Detweiler
- Music by Nico Muhly
- Cinematography Reed Morano
- Edited by Brian A. Kates
- Production companies: Killer Films, Benaroya Pictures, Future Film
- Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics
- Release date: January 18, 2013
- Running time: 104 minutes
- Country: United States
- Language: English
- Budget: $5,678,370
- Box office: $1,686,065[