Beat is 2000 American drama film written and directed by Gary Walkow, concerning the period of writer William S. Burroughs's life that he spent with his wife, the late Joan Vollmer, leading up to her accidental murder in 1951.
The film stars Kiefer Sutherland as Burroughs, Courtney Love as Joan, Norman Reedus as Lucien Carr, and Ron Livingston as Allen Ginsberg. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2000.
The film opens with Joan Vollmer (Courtney Love) balancing a water tumbler on her head as William Burroughs, her husband, aims a gun at her as she entices him to shoot her. The film then cuts to Joan and Burroughs in the months prior in Mexico City, as Burroughs is leaving on a trip to Guatemala to meet his male lover, Lee (Sam Trammell). Joan, despondent to William's affair and his disinterest in her, is left to take care of their two children while he goes on his vacation.
Various flashbacks from that point on tell the story of the 1944 murder of their mutual friend...