The film works -- quite well -- as a sort of "Beat Generation: First Class," depicting the origins of the relationships between Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and William Burroughs (Ben Foster). The four met while Ginsberg, Carr and Kerouac were attending Columbia University in the mid-1940s and collectively saw their lives change forever when one of them was arrested for the murder of David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall).
Made on a tiny budget and shot in just 24 days (though it appears to have the production value of a film 10 times its cost), the film succeeds in large part because of fantastic performances across the board, particularly from DeHaan (who excudes a remarkably sinister seductiveness as Carr) and Radcliffe (who gives his all to his portrait of Ginsberg's budding sexuality, and should continue his post-"Potter" path with bold, complex roles like this one).
An understandably emotional Krokidas took the stage to introduce the film, 11 years after he first attended Sundance with a short film.
"When you come here and you're part of this circus, all you want to do is come back," he said. "So I vowed in two years time I was going to come back here with a feature. So me and my college roommate -- one of my best friends in the world -- Austin Bunn sat down to do this ridiculously crazy, ambitious project. And it came together and fell apart so many times I never thought today was going to happen."
But it did indeed, though the attention during the Q&A was predictably on Mr. Radcliffe, who first fielded a question about what it was like to have to get a perm to portray Ginsberg. Watch the full Q&A below, which features Radcliffe, Krokidas, DeHaan, Hall, Foster, Huston and more: