Beat (2000) - Rotten Tomatoes

Beat (2000)




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William S. Burroughs' ill-fated performance of his "William Tell act" -- resulting in his wife Joan Vollmer getting a bullet in the brain with a shot glass atop her head -- soon became the stuff of Beat legend. This film, directed by Gary Walkow, traces this doomed romance from its inception to its bloody end. The movie opens in 1944 New York, where Columbia journalism student Vollmer is already living a bohemian life filled with pharmaceuticals and a host of future beatniks, including hunky Jack Kerouac (Daniel Martinez), a young Allen Ginsberg (Ron Livingston), and of course, Burroughs (Kiefer Sutherland). Also frequenting Vollmer's pad is Lucien Carr (Norman Reedus) whom everyone is enamored with, especially Dave Kammerer (Kyle Secor), who winds up dead after trying to jump the object of his affection. Seven years later, Joan and William have married in spite of Burroughs' obvious homosexual predilections. Their domestic bliss is strained when the two have to flee to Mexico City after they get slapped with a drug rap. Ginsberg and Carr, now correspondents for the UPI, visit the couple only to discover that Burroughs split town with his lover-for-hire. Vollmer and the boys decide to go on a road trip that is brimming with heterosexual tension. William eventually returns from his sex-binge suspecting that Joan had a fling with Carr. During that fateful night, Burroughs pulls out a gun that he was going to sell for drug money and performs one of the most spectacularly botched party-tricks in literary history. This film was screened at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival.
R (adult situations/language, sex, violence)
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
LionsGate Entertainment

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Courtney Love
as Joan Vollmer
Norman Reedus
as Lucien Carr
Ron Livingston
as Allen Ginsberg
Kiefer Sutherland
as William S. Burroughs
Daniel Martinez XI
as Jack Kerouac
Kyle Secor
as Dave Kammerer
Rene Rubio
as Bill Jr.
Steve Hedden
as Pharmacist
Tommy Perna
as Dwight
Darren Ross
as UPI Guy
Chano Samoana
as Man at Bar
Luis Felipe Tovar
as Federale Sergeant
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Critic Reviews for Beat

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (1)

Ron Livingston is excellent as Ginsberg, the film's de facto narrator, and Kiefer Sutherland is admirably restrained in the role of Burroughs.

Full Review… | April 7, 2010
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Put it out of it's misery, please?

March 11, 2006

This failed effort would have been better served if it wasn't released.

Full Review… | October 20, 2002
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Beat

An impressive cast. That's about it. Unless you know the story of these figures already or saw another 'beat' related movie, then you will be lost and not care. This is mostly due to total lack of character backstory or development. I wonder how they managed to even get this cast together for this movie.

Dave JB
Dave JB

About a couple living in Mexico. It really didn't have much of a plot. I decided to watch this movie because I had seen Courtney Love in "Trapped" and thought she was amazing. This movie was just boring though. Nice hair, makeup and wardrobe but that's about it. Good for one time viewing.

Jennifer Torres
Jennifer Torres

This is worth a look if you're a fan of the Beatnik era, specifically Burroughs and Ginsberg. I had never heard of this before, and thought it looked completely bizarre, which it was. Kiefer Sutherland as William S. Burroughs? That just seems wrong, but he tries and is serviceable. This is a movie really more about his wife, who I didn't know much about, and her epic roadtrip with Allan Ginsberg and Lucien Carr in Mexico. June Burroughs is played by Courtney Love, who has the most amazing blue eyes and tragic junkie swagger. She's so naturally mesmerizing to watch and I think she works here, as the other two fall in love with her and want to save her from Burroughs' madness. They have some great scenes together. They can't drag her away though. Ron Livingston is surprisingly good as Allan Ginsberg. He's always Peter in Office Space to me, but I guess Peter's a little like Ginsberg after his hypnosis. He doesn't look like Ginsberg but oh well, we're already throwing caution to the wind with Sutherland. Anyway, cable gave me this little gem of a movie today, and it gives me more insight into the poetry of Ginsberg's that I love. Also, it paints Burroughs as being darker and more disturbing than I ever realized. I know - As if that were possible - but it's true!

Susan Patton
Susan Patton

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