James Franco proves his versatility once again playing literary icon Allen Ginsberg

Howl review

127 Hours (and his dodgy Oscar hosting) snatched awards limelight, but James Franco’s bravura turn as Beat icon Allen Ginsberg might be his greater achievement, never drifting into pat impersonation.

Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s docu-pedigree is clear: pensive faux-interviews intersperse with an all-star enactment of the 1957 obscenity trial, while Franco’s spine-tingling reading of the titular text is accompanied by intervals of animation that occasionally border on over-literal.

A bold and appropriately visionary venture.

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