"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.
on 12 January 2014
I saw this film on opening night, after waiting months, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Superbly acted by Daniel Radcliffe, who has successfully made the transition from mediocre actor as Harry Potter to a sophisticated adult actor, and accompanied by the magnificent Dane DeHaan who stole the show, so to speak. Michael C Hall (Dexter, Six Feet Under) was also wonderful in this semi biographical tale.
It's a story of romance, suspense, self-discovery and heartbreak. Dane DeHaan as Lucien Carr was wonderful and charasmatic, Radcliffe demonstrates there is life after 'Potter', and their on-screen chemistry is fantastic, and I don't just mean The Kiss :)
As a tale of the Beat Generation, I'm not sure how well it tallies with history, but regardless, it's certainly a very entertaining film and I can't wait for my pre-ordered DVD to arrive when it's released!
on 9 March 2014
This story is a historical drama concerning the life of Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) and his time at Columbia University. The story centers on the events leading up to the murder of David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall) by Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) of which we gets glimpses of in the beginning. The film concentrates on the complex relationship of Ginsberg and Carr, from their writing, to sharing of private lives, to their "New Vision" their "rearrangement of the senses" to their lover relationship.
Other characters include Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and William Burroughs (Ben Foster). They created an avant-garde culture by rejecting cultural values, and in a way were the anti-Fitzgeralds while being them.
Danie Radcliffe shows us that if you spend enough time in front of a camera, you can one day be an actor. He was excellent in his role, as were the supporting cast. I would have appreciated a more colorful Jack Kerouac.
A good historical drama for those who might find interest in the topic.
Parental Guide: F-bomb. Sex (male-male, oral) male rear nudity.
A very impressive and sophisticated retelling of a virtually hidden history. Radcliffe gives the performance of his career to date and is admirably supported by a talented cast, a great director and and intellectually challenging script. No, film isn't for everyone, and certainly not Radcliffe's Harry Potter fan base, but it certainly worked for me.
on 16 September 2016
I first saw Kill Your Darlings at a press release just before the film was released. I unfortunately did not get the chance to write up the review in time, which is a shame because it was accompanied by a question and answer session with Daniel Radcliffe (Allen Ginsberg). I thought, considering I always planned to review this film, I would give it another go.
The plot is not a straight-forward, linear one. It is about revolution and love: about acceptance and belonging: about being something more than what the universe dictates. While it is full of big ideas and big names – the best poets at the time – the plot dragged and the film felt incredibly long. It didn’t hold my interest that well.
The characters were complex, but so much of the film involved them hallucinating, it is hard to see how they develop and react to the events surrounding them. Despite learning how to follow his heart, Ginsberg ends up right back where he started, albeit it with more of an appreciation of poetry. Being based on a true story limits the potential, but the characters could have been more.
While the acting was good enough to make the characters work, I don’t think any particular performance was strong enough to really pack an emotional punch. Dane DeHaan (Lucien Carr) was the strongest, managing to portray a tormented young man who struggled with life. When his ex-lover (David Kammere played by Michael C. Hall) first shows up at the apartment, DeHaan folds in on himself and it is one of the most powerful visuals in the film about his confliction. Not the rants, the drugs or the drinking, but his internal dilemma.
The film is circular, starting at the end and ending at the start, a visual representation of the revolution and the sayings that the poets were living by. The clever metaphors, however, do not distract from the way the film feels like it drags.
I’m glad to have seen Kill Your Darlings in a setting where I could appreciate it more than a packed cinema. For me, however, the film is an effort to get through and feels like it missed a spark. A film to only watch once.
on 5 December 2013
Daniel Radcliffe stars as Beat Generation icon Allen Ginsberg in this biopic set during the famed poet's early years at Columbia University, and centering on a murder investigation involving Ginsberg, his handsome classmate Lucien Carr, and fellow Beat author William Burroughs. The year is 1944. Ginsberg (Radcliffe) is a young student at Columbia University when he falls hopelessly under the spell of charismatic classmate Carr (Dane DeHaan). Alongside Carr, Ginsberg manages to strike up friendships with aspiring writers William Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) that would cast conformity to the wind, and serve as the foundation of the Beat movement. Meanwhile, an older outsider named David Krammerer falls deeply and madly in love with the impossibly cool Carr. Later, when Krammerer dies under mysterious circumstances, police arrest Kerouac, Burroughs, and Carr as potential suspects, paving the way for an investigation that would have a major impact on the lives of the three emerging artists. Worth the watch 4*.
on 6 October 2014
I initially bought this film because of Daniel Radcliffe, though I do watch films in this genre, I wasn't sure this was my kind of film, I was way off though, I loved it.
This is a film of two parts and a mix of genres, it's romance, suspense, crime, coming of age and drama all in one, it totally surprised me.
Daniel Radcliffe stars as poet Allen Ginsberg and 'Kill your darlings' tells the story of his life in the mid 1940s and the beginnings of the beats generation. How accurate to real life this film is, I'm not sure but I found it fascinating and Radcliffe shows he is much more than Harry Potter, he has genuine talent and plays this part perfectly. I should also mention Dane DeHaan, he is so believable and the chemistry between himself and Daniel is undeniable.
I watched this film twice in a row, the second time with the commentary, which I highly recommend, and I will definitely be watching it again.
on 1 July 2014
Interesting covering the college years of Allen Ginsberg and the circle of friends / acquaintances he had. I found the film a little disjointed, but the acting from the main leads was very good, but as a total package I was left thinking what might have been!
on 22 May 2014
The title comes from William Faulkner, who reckoned the key to good writing is for the author to dispense with what he or she feels precious. It has a more literal meaning in the context of John Krokidas' debut feature, which tells the story of Lucien Carr, baddest boy of the Beat Generation, who slew David Kammerer in an alleged "honour killing" - a phrase which carried a different but no less repugnant definition in the 1940s.
The film begins with Carr (Dane DeHaan) behind bars, confronting his friend Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), and then leaps back to the beginning of their strange, brief journey together, as Ginsberg achieves his dream of walking through the sacred doors of Columbia University. He finds Carr outrageously alive. They become flirtatious friends and it becomes apparent that Carr is so alive because he's always confronting death. They confront death together. Ginsberg sees it as proof of vitality, while Carr seems to take it more seriously.
The scenes between Carr and Ginsberg are the main vein of the film, trouncing the other stuff. DeHaan and Radcliffe have fizzing chemistry, and it's in their scenes that we best get the sense of the passion driving the poetry. Poetry itself is conspicuous in its absence. If you want a movie about the experience of the Beat work, watch Rob Epstein's and Jeffrey Friedman's excellent Howl. Kill Your Darlings is predominantly a relational piece, and works best in the confines of the tender, destructive central pairing. It's here we understand love best: inspirational, yes, but also ferocious and abusive. Passionate, in the suffering sense.
The characters that orbit around them are less carefully drawn. Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) as an adulterous jock and William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster) as a stone-faced stoner feed into conventional college-buddy tropes. Poor Elizabeth Olsen plays Kerouac's long-suffering dame, Edie, gets to do nothing more than disapprove. And disapprove she might of these young men. The film nails the sense of the revolution being the product of little more than the (sexual) frustration of a group of classically educated school kids, misbehaving for the sake of seeing the reaction. It was arguably an era even less kind on women than it was on gay men.
The backdrop to the events in New York are those of the Second World War. In the form of news reports and Voice-O-Grams, we are fed slivers of the horrors unravelling in Europe. Whether intentional or not, this parallel narrative left me with a sense that the suffering of the jazz poets was relatively inconsequential. Perhaps it's intended as a riposte to Theodor Adorno's famously despairing conclusion: "There can be no poetry after Auschwitz". Well, there would be poetry - but it would never be the same.
For all the movie's reverse-film montages and wildfire editing, the story plays out in a fairly linear and ordered fashion. We get a bit of anachronistic Bloc Party music, but mostly this is handsome, composed, conventional filmmaking which only occasionally sparks with the passion of its protagonists. It doesn't quite suck the life out of its subject in the way that David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method somehow managed to do, but neither does it ever really open its lungs and howl at the sky in the way one wishes.
Based on a true story, 'Kill Your Darlings' is the tale of young Allen Ginsberg (portrayed by Daniel Radcliffe, proving that there is life after Harry Potter), the famed American poet. Focusing on his early years, the young Allen is portrayed here as a rather innocent and naive young man. The son of a writer and a mentally unstable mother, when he is excepted into Columbia University, a whole new world is opened to him, and there he is able to persuade his writing talents.
He soon befriends a group of arrogant, rebellious fellow students who would later become known as the Beat Generation. This group explored very bold literary ideas, and Allen quickly adapts to their unconventional lifestyle. He even becomes involved in a gay love triangle with the charismatic and rebellious Lucien Carr (brilliantly played by Dane DeHaan), but this is to end in fatal consequences.
I knew absolutely nothing about these writers before watching, but I do enjoy a movie based on history. I thought that 'Kill Your Darlings' was memorable and stylish, brilliantly capturing the 1940s era, and is an overall interesting study into how these characterful people interacted with each other.
It has to be said that in this movie, Daniel Radcliffe has successfully moved away from the character he became so famous for, and carries off this new, completely different role well. He is becoming a talented modern actor, and his performance is far better than the one we saw in 'The Woman in Black'.
If you have an interest in the Beat Generation, I would recommend that you invest in 'Kill Your Darlings'. As I've said, I knew nothing at all about it, but found the whole film very interesting.
The DVD contains subtitles for the hard-of-hearing, and special features such as deleted scenes, and a conversation between Daniel Radcliffe and Dane Dehaan.