In San Francisco in 1957 Allen Ginsberg’s epochal (and enduring) poem Howl was put on trial for obscenity. James Franco is the young Ginsberg. The film is built around his marvellous reading of the poem, seemingly unrehearsed, buoyed by an enthusiastic audience and the incantatory scramble of the poet’s words. Re-enacted scenes from the trial succinctly spell out the still-resonant debates. In an imagined interview Ginsberg muses on his own creative process and personal struggles. Passages from the poem are interpreted in bold, hallucinatory sequences of animation.