James Franco stars as counter-culture revolutionary Allen Ginsberg, who recounts the road trips, love affairs and search for personal liberation that led to the most electrifying work of his career: the poem Howl. Meanwhile, in a San Francisco courtroom, Howl is on trial as prosecutor Ralph McIntosh (David Strathairn), defense attorney Jake Ehrlich (Jon Hamm), and a host of witnesses (Jeff Daniels, Mary-Louise Parker, Treat Williams) debate the artistic merits of the controversial poem, and whether or not it should be banned from publication.