John Krokidas (this is his first full-lengther, after making a couple of shorts), the movie is quite stunning -- fortunately less for any of its individual "effects" that for how very well the filmmaker has woven them all into his dark tale of life at Columbia University circa 1944 among a group of people who can most effectively be described as "the other." Not only were several of them homosexual (at at time in our history when this really was the love that dare not speak its name), these outsiders were champing at the bit of every-thing remotely traditional -- from sex to poetry to the classroom canon. Struggling to create new art forms and life/love relationships, they were, to be sure, poseurs of a sort (weren't we all--isn't that part of growing up?), yet a number of them also possessed a good deal of talent.
Daniel Radcliffe, at left), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and William Burroughs (Ben Foster) have the real thing, while two others -- a young man named Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) and his older "pal" David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall) -- are more provocateurs/
Because Carr is so immediately alluring, full of himself and hugely attractive to Ginsberg, it takes awhile for the budding poet (and us) to begin to notice the flush behind the flash.
Jennifer Jason Leigh (above, as mom) and a very surprising David Cross (reminding us of a young Lee Wilkoff), shown below, with Radcliffe, as dad.
Six Feet Under roots, Mr. Hall (below), who is most likely at this point too be remembered for his performances there and in Dexter, makes his needy, angry Kammerer character a very sad and memorable one.
Elizabeth Olsen as his girlfriend) pales a bit beside that of Sam Riley's in On the Road, it's only because Riley received much more screen time. Here, Kerouac seems (probably correctly, too) more acted-upon than a self-starter.
Sony Pictures Classics and running a surprisingly swift 104 minutes, the movie opens this Wednesday, October 16, in New York City (the Walter Reade Theater and the Sunshine Cinema) and in Los Angeles (at The Landmark).