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Kill Your Darlings Film Review

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by Nicholas Gordon (subscribe)
Freelance writer based in Sydney.
Published November 27th 2013
The secret history of the Beat Generation
This one has got everything. There's sex and lies and jealousy and ambition and talent. And violence in the form of a grizzly murder. Kill Your Darlings, based on a true story and directed by John Krokidas, follows the main protagonists of the Beat Generation as they are starting out in New York in the 1940s.

The film is centred on a young Allen Ginsberg, played by Daniel Radcliffe, who takes a place at Columbia University. He soon crosses paths with Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan), a brash fellow student and they begin a relationship. And a complicated one at that. They start hanging out with others (who will all later be heralded as key members of the Beats) including William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston). Added into the mix is the forlorn figure of David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall), an older man who is involved in a relationship with Carr. The nature of their relationship, it soon becomes clear to Ginsberg, is also very complicated.

The tension builds mixed with interludes of university hijinks, displays of anti-authoritarianism and many careless, drunken nights until the pressure of Kammerer trying to win back Carr, who has all but abandoned him in favour of Ginsberg, gets too much. And so Carr murders Kammerer, and Ginsberg must decide whether to help Carr after he has been arrested for the slaying.

Kill Your Darlings weaves the stories of the Beats as young men, when they weren't the literary giants they would become, with the little-known story of Carr murdering his jilted lover. Daniel Radcliffe portrays Ginsberg well, as does DeHaan as the very intriguing and very shady Carr. Ben Foster as Burroughs is brilliant, his careful performance offering the only touch of humour. Some snazzy editing and some clever use of contemporary music give the film a bit of flair, but it's the story of the murder you've never heard about before that will stay with you.

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*Nicholas Gordon was invited as a guest
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Why? For a story you've never heard before
When: In cinemas from December 5
Where: Cinemas everywhere
Cost: Check with local cinema
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