17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
"We have a duty to break the law!",
This review is from: Kill Your Darlings [DVD] (DVD)
"Kill Your Darlings" (2013 release; 104 min.) is not to be confused with the completely unrelated (Swedish) film of the same name from 2006. The 2013 film brings the story of how the Beat generation got its not-so-humble start, when in the mid-1940s Allen Ginsberg (played by Daniel Radcliffe), then a freshman at Columbia University, gets to know and befriend Jack Kerouac (played by Jack Huston) as well as William S. Burroughs (played by Ben Foster). The movie actually felt like two-movies-in-one. The first part of the movie shows us how these three, along with a few more characters, start dreaming up what would eventually be known as the Beat generation. The basic formula of that seemed to have been: cause as much havoc as possible (at one point one of them concludes: "we have a duty to break the law!", as if that makes it okay), go to lots of night clubs in Harlem to check out the latest jazz combo, and smoke lots and lots of cigarettes (and take in a few not-quite-so-legal things as well). The second part of the movie centers around the troubled relationship between Lucien Carr (played by Dane DeHaan) and David Kammerer (played by Michael C. Hall) on the one hand, and Ginsberg's own relationship with Carr on the other hand. To tell you much more would ruin your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: as between the 2-in-1 films, I was not particularly drawn in with the first part of the movie, as it all felt very forced (I kept thinking: look! there they are! trying to act drunk when they really aren't). But it is the second part of the film that really pulled me in and caught my attention (and then kept it through the end). The events portrayed in the film are based on true events, so perhaps you know what is going to happen. If you don't, no worries, I'm not going to spoil anything. Just be ready to be surprised, more than once even. The acting performances are quite good, in particular Dane DeHaan, but check out also a couple of small roles from Elizabeth Olsen as Kerouac's girlfriend Edie, hard to believe that she is still only 24, I can't wait to see more of her; and also Jennifer Jason Leigh as Allen Ginsberg's unstable mom. When watching this, you can't help but think back to that other Beat generation movie from earlier this year, "On The Road" (based on the Kerouac book). In the end, they are very different movies, and both worth checking out. Make sure you don't walk out of the theatre or turn off the DVD as soon as the end credits start rolling. Not only do we get to hear the Libertines' "Don't Look back Into the Sun" as the credits roll, but even better is that we get to see actual photos from the early days of the Beat generation.
This movie debuted to nice critical acclaim earlier this year at the Sundance film festival, and I have been looking forward to seeing it. It finally opened at the local art-house theatre here in Cincinnati (Ohio) this past weekend, and I finally had a chance to see it today. The screening was not particularly well attended, and even with the great critical buzz, I just don't see this sticking around in the theatres very long. Regardless, if you have a chance to check it out, be it in the theatres or on DVD/Blu-ray, go for it.