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Kill Your Darlings - Film Review

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by Richard Leathem (subscribe)
Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published November 30th 2013
Harry Potter's first gay kiss
Director: John Krokidas
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Michael C Hall, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Ben Foster

Despite the fame and notoriety that surrounded the Beat Generation writers and their influence on American literature, no film about the trailblazing scribes has ever been a hit - a pattern unlikely to be disrupted by Kill Your Darlings.

kill your darlings daniel radcliffe
Daniel Radcliffe as Beat poet Allen Ginsberg

Perhaps it is the aloof nature of these self-proclaimed intellectual giants that renders them inaccessible to the general public. If this latest outing is anything to go by, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William S Burroughs could hardly be described as appealing heroes. By their own admission they are incapable of sustaining a meaningful relationship. It seems from the start that emotional bonding is not on the menu and the best we can hope for is an interesting history lesson.

The story itself is contained to the period when Ginsberg is first introduced to Kerouac and Burroughs at university, via classmate Lucien Carr. While Carr doesn't match the trio in talent, his provocative acts against the establishment ingratiate him to the group, while at the same time generating more trouble than any of them could have reckoned for.

kill your darlings daniel radcliffe
Ginsberg (Radcliffe) begins a tenuous romantic affair with Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan)

The film begins with a tone not dissimilar to that of Beat poetry, it's anarchic and disjointed, feeling much like the Beat mantra "first thought best thought" is being put into action. As the film continues, it becomes more conventional, which is not a criticism. It's probably necessary for the characters to actually come through. Having said that, it's only Ginsberg that we really get under the skin of.

Daniel Radcliffe no doubt is relishing the chance to play such grown up characters as this and was probably cursing the fact that he had to keep wearing his Harry Potter glasses for the role. In every other respect though, he's completely transformed. It's time we started thinking of him as a very fine actor. As the most grounded of the group, Ginsberg is our entry point to this lofty academic world and Radcliffe at least provides a level of sympathy for the character.

kill your darlings daniel radcliffe
The Beat Generation: William S Burroughs (Ben Foster), Ginsberg, Carr and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston)

Ben Foster is not an obvious choice as William S Burroughs, but its a testament to the diversity of the actor that he plays him so convincingly, getting his distinctive voice just right. Elsewhere Jennifer Jason Leigh continues her evolution into a great player of mothers (it's what actresses her age have to do).

By film's end, you're not likely to feel any closer to any of the members of this clicky set, and if you're not already a fan of their work, this is not likely to send you rushing to a bookstore to begin your love affair with them.

Kill Your Darlings is an intriguing glimpse into a particularly formative period of the lives of these literary icons, but as has been the case in the past, it seems as if people don't really care.

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Why? Daniel Radcliffe post Potter
Where: At selected cinemas
Your Comment
Hmmm...I still think I'll go and check it out....I'm such a sucker for this sort of thing...
by 1xani (score: 1|10) 2719 days ago
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