Kill Your Darlings (2013)

Kill Your Darlings
Director: John Krokidas
Writer: John Krokidas, Austin Bunn
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Michael C. Hall, Jack Huston, Ben Foster, David Cross, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Elizabeth Olsen, Kyra Sedgwick
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 14.6.2014

Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) gets a place of university and isn’t unhappy to get away from home, where his mentally ill mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) makes his life difficult, the relationship with his father (David Cross) is strained. At university, Allen meets Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) and is immediately fascinated by him and his reckless lifestyle. Lucien introduces him to David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall), William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and Jack’s wife Edie Parker (Elizabeth Olsen). Allen realizes that something strange is going on between Lucien and David, but is swept up in the anarchistic energy that envelops Lucien, William, Jack and him. But the harmonious and fun beginnings soon give way to difficulties and tensions.

I am still a little undecided about this film. The cast is really good, the story is interesting and it’s all packaged into a film that is mostly fine but lacks something I can’t put my finger on.


I didn’t think that I’d ever write that Daniel Radcliffe was really good in a film – even though I rather like him in interviews etc., so far his acting didn’t quite convince me. But in this case, I have to draw my hat – he is obviously learning and really was very good as Allen Ginsberg and the perfect counterweight to Dane DeHaan’s Lucien Carr, arguably the more attention grabbing role. You’d really be hard pressed to say who of all the actors playing beat poets in the film did a better job.

Krokidas bundles all these big personalities into an interesting story. I didn’t really know about the murder before, so I was pretty curious about that. The film’s strength, though, lies in the first half – in the raucous energy and the creative potential that is unleashed in the group. When it comes to the crime story, it falls a little flat – in particular because the explanation for the murder made me uncomfortable: in the film, in Ginsberg’s words, murder becomes an act of love and that is all kinds of fucked up.

killyourdarlings1But while that is something that I can quite easily point out at something that bothered me, there was also something else about it that made me a little wary of it. There seemed to be something lacking, some ingredient that I didn’t get enough of. Was it that there were barely any women in the film (and the few that were were completely sidelined)? Maybe I was missing some maturity in all this teenaged, hormone fueled explosion. I don’t know. But maybe it simply was that it didn’t quite reach Howl. Since that film to me was pretty much magical, every other film would have to fall flat when measured against it. That may be unfair, but I couldn’t keep myself from comparing Kill Your Darlings anyway.

In any case I did enjoy Kill Your Darlings, and it is certainly worth seeing. But if you only watch one movie about Ginsberg, make it Howl.

killyourdarlings2Summarizing: Not bad at all.

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