Howl Reviews

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Tom Huddleston
Time Out
February 23, 2011
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.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Tom Long
Detroit News
January 28, 2011
It's sweet stuff, a portrait of an artist in turmoil, under fire and laying himself bare. Howl captures Howl beautifully.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
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Todd McCarthy
Variety
January 3, 2011
Admirable if fundamentally academic.
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Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
October 29, 2010
What could have been a trivial exercise in nostalgia instead becomes a powerful case for the cathartic power of art.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
October 28, 2010
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.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
October 22, 2010
Howl is a disappointingly mundane movie about a vibrant, iconoclastic subject.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Chris Vognar
Dallas Morning News
October 22, 2010
It's about literature itself, the ways in which it works on the reader and the folly of applying some objective standard of decency and meaning to words on a page.
Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5
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Richard Nilsen
Arizona Republic
October 21, 2010
The film forces us to face what a powerful poem "Howl" remains. That poetry isn't just pretty language, it has the ability to make us think about our lives, even to change our lives.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
October 14, 2010
Despite James Franco's smart performance as poet Allen Ginsberg, this film rings hollow.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
October 8, 2010
The language of that poem, which periodically pours out from the screen, is the best thing in the movie.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
October 8, 2010
The result, though clearly flawed, is passionate and ambitious, celebrating that long-gone era when a book of verse could spark a revolution in consciousness.
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Liam Lacey
Globe and Mail
October 8, 2010
The best thing about the film Howl is the poem Howl.
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Ty Burr
Boston Globe
September 30, 2010
How do you make poetry cinematic? "Howl,'' a new film about beat writer Allen Ginsberg, asks that question without realizing the question is backward. It should be: How do you make cinema poetic?
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
September 30, 2010
It's well-crafted, but I wish the film showed us an additional dimension or two of the central figure, who once said the great challenge in writing, any kind of writing, is "to write the same way you are."
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
September 30, 2010
The bold, outspoken man of later days is seen here as still a middle-class youth, uncertain of his gayness, filled with the heady joy of early poetic success, learning how to be himself.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Dana Stevens
Slate
September 24, 2010
By the time this movie's over, you've spent an hour and a half just working your way through the words of "Howl" and some related source material, and that turns out to be a surprisingly satisfying thing to do.
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A.O. Scott
New York Times
September 24, 2010
An exemplary work of literary criticism on film, explaining and contextualizing its source without deadening it.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
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Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
September 24, 2010
Howl is a movie with no clear narrative. It pushes boundaries and feels like one man's fever dream. But all those traits would certainly make Allen Ginsberg happy.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
September 23, 2010
A film of passion and ambition, but one whose success is intermittent at best.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Keith Phipps
AV Club
September 23, 2010
Happily, Ginsberg's words still cut recklessly through the years.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
September 22, 2010
Allen Ginsberg's revolutionary 1956 poem ''Howl'' -- a literary manifesto for the Beat Generation -- gets a great reading from modern-day beatnik-star James Franco, playing the poet with bebop passion.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
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Rex Reed
New York Observer
September 22, 2010
There is no defining story of lasting importance here, so the directors opted for a small narrative, a lot of drawings and snippets of the trial. It's filled with graphics, but doesn't really amount to much of a film or an illumination of the man's life.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Keith Uhlich
Time Out
September 22, 2010
A Beat Generation biopic that makes you sympathize with the Man? That's just unholy.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/5
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J. Hoberman
Village Voice
September 21, 2010
Splendid as Franco's literal characterization and overheated line readings can be, art director Eric Drooker's literal-minded animated interpretation of "Howl" are as sodden as a cold latke -- as well as a distraction.
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Laremy Legel
Film.com
June 14, 2010
Howl is very, very, good. Worth seeing if you love writing, if you've ever written, if you're intrigued by the creative process as a whole.
Full Review | Original Score: A
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Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
January 28, 2010
It's done pretty well as a poem up till now, and more than once during Franco's reading, I simply closed my eyes and listened.
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Kyle Smith
New York Post
January 23, 2010
Milk meets Pink Floyd the Wall. Says everything it has to say in the first 20 minutes, then keeps repeating itself.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
January 22, 2010
The filmmakers don't get everything right but their passion for Ginsberg's genius and their excitement over trying to deconstruction a literary master work is contagious. A more perfect film might have been just a teensy-weensy dull.