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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I will openly admit that I don't know a lot about the Beat poets -- romantic or classical poets are more my type.

So I don't know EVERYTHING that is wrong with "Beat," a movie that chronicles the dramatic crumble of William Burroughs' marriage to Joan Vollmer. But I do know what the movie's problems are -- the acting is patchy, the story meanders, and it's hard to care about the dying marriage of two people who don't even share the screen for most of the movie.

Two years ago, William Burroughs (Kiefer Sutherland) and his common-law wife Joan Vollmer (Courtney Love) helped Lucien Carr (Norman Reedus) after Carr killed a hanger-on who had sexually assaulted him. Now Carr is back, and he's apparently in love with Joan but not sure if he wants to also bring along her kids.

So while Burroughs goes on a vacation with a boyfriend, Joan impulsively goes off with Carr and Allen Ginsberg (Ron Livingston), and begins to seriously consider leaving her husband. Of course, it inevitably leads to tragedy... and since they show it in the very first scene, I'll just say that it involves a "William Tell act."

Anyone hoping for a cinematic dash of beat flavor is going to cry after they see this movie -- the beat movement and their work is barely touched on. It's like the producers heard, "Real life accidental death/possible murder by famous figure!" and decided to make a movie about it without knowing much about any of the people involved.

In fact, most of the movie is a slow, rather dreary trip through the Mexican forests, where people talk and occasionally kiss; and we have some brief glimpses of Burroughs trying to cuddle his boyfriend in a dingy bedroom, as well as sepia-toned flashbacks. The narrative just sort of oozes along, with a few quotables that clunk off the ear ("But people decay more promptly than Mayan temples").

In short, it's... pretty, but very boring. As for the dramatic and infamous death scene, there doesn't seem to be any ambiguity about whether it was deliberate or not.

Sutherland gives aperfect impression of Ginsberg's voice, but he spends most of the movie looking like he's confused by his ill-defined character. But he does do a good job near the end, such as when we see Ginsberg tearing up while having a knife resharpened. Courtney Love looks like she's stoned most of the time, slurring and drowsily twisting her large lips, while Reedus and Livingston are excellent but mostly wasted.

"Beat" is allegedly about the beat poets and the death of Joan Vollmer, but don't be fooled. There's hardly anything of the "beat" in "Beat," just the slow and uninvolving death of a marriage.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 2 January 2003
Set in the 1940's in New York for the first half, Beat, provides us with the true story of William Borroughs, played by Kiefer Sutherland, and Borroughs' wife, Joan Volimer, played by Courtney Love.
The addition of Norman Reedus who presents his character, Lucian Carr, furthers the plot to convey a selection of characters with an array of emotions which are so brilliantly confronted throughout the film. Based upon the stormy relationship of Borroughs and Volimer, who later move to Mexico, the film also centers itself around Burroughs' homosexual affairs, the couple's drug dependent lifestyle and Volimer's desire for a life of chasing dreams, daring adventure and emotional stability. The most shocking moment, which is slightly echoed at the beginning of the film, is left until the end when Borroughs performs an old trick with his wife, which results in horrific consequences and was said to shape the rest of his career as both poet and author.
This is by no means and action, thriller or horror film, but one that appeals to the emotions and the senses and the fact that it is a true story makes it even more so. Despite Courtney Love recently being in many other acclaimed films, i personally think this is one of her best performances whilst Kiefer Sutherland's depiction of the slightly nervous William S. Burroughs is also beautifully executed.
I really loved this film because all the characters were mentally accessible and we find ourselves sympathising with all of them. Whilst the acting was great, the scenery was also pretty cool and for anyone who takes an interest in William Burroughs' work, i would say that this is a must see!
As this is a DVD speacial features include trailers, scene selection and subtitle selection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 31 August 2012
I love Norman Reedus. I adore him. I even think Courtney Love has done some wonderful acting. This film is awful. It's boring, pointless and I gave up half way through due to how dull it was. None of the characters are likable, I didn't empathise with any of them and Kiefer's accent just made me laugh. Avoid! x
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on 11 April 2012
Again - I only bought this film because I'm a fan of Norman Reedus (from watching BDS and TWD). I must admit though - I was fairly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. I thought Courtney Love was particularly good as was Reedus himself. I mean - I wouldn't go so far as to hand out Academy Award nominations but for me it was pretty good value for money. If I had to pin-point anyone for bad acting - it would have to be Kiefer Sutherland (who I normally can find no fault with) - he was just the worst player in this. In fact - he was pretty awful!

My main problem was with the dvd itself - the sound went 'in-and-out' at times!
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on 5 August 2012
I gave up on this half way through as I just didn't care about any of the characters. I've loved Courtney Love in other things, but in this she looked bored, as did everyone else cast in it. I was bored too, so much so that I gave up on it. I adittedly didn't have a whole lot of interest in the set up, but thought I'd give it a try. I regret that now. Norman Reedus is his usual wonderful self, but it's not enough to save this movie.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
For anyone with even the slightest interest in Burroughs, this is a must-see, but for all the wrong reasons. A car-crash biopic, untrue to the spirit of WSB and Joan Vollmer, badly written, poorly acted, utterly laughable. It would be hard to imagine a worse piece of casting of the skeletal and sepulchral Bill Burroughs than fleshy mesomorph Kiefer Sutherland. Courtney Love is similarly risible as Joan. Almost unbelievably awful.
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on 27 December 2007
I bought this because Courtney Love was BRILLIANT in her previous movie Julie Johnson...but this was not a Saturday Night Special or even a decent `road movie`.
Love was fantastic as single mum and sexy stripper Julie Johnson...but in this she is poor...as is the entire project.
Rubbish script , bad acting and no humour.
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on 28 December 2007
The book was brilliant but sadly the same can NOT be said about the movie version.
Courtney Love is a fantastic singer and was sensational as the sexy stripper in the cult classic Julie Johnson - but this is not a film she can be proud of.
Boring, dull and bland.
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on 10 June 2013
Despite all the dislikes of this movie, I actually really liked it. It does have a lot of flaws and was far from my favourite movie, but it was good. The acting was amazing and the story's decent (If you like that kinda stuff.)
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1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 29 December 2007
I watched this last night because I`m a bit of fan of Courtney Love...she was great in Julie Johnson...but only OK in this.
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