Film ReviewKill Your Darlings Open to Interpretation
October 17, 2013 - By JP Spence
Jon Krokidas directorial debut has more hits than misses.
PHOTO BY CLAY ENOS
From left, Dane DeHaan as Lucien Carr and Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg in
Kill Your Darlings from Sony Pictures Classics.
Somewhere between based on actual events and cold hard truth is where Kill Your Darlings lives. Considering the murkiness of the Beat Generations genesis, thats not all bad; however, the film is far better as character study than real-life depiction.
Allen Ginsburg (Daniel Radcliffe) is a young, doe-eyed (and supremely repressed) freshman at Columbia University. There he meets a whirling dervish better known as Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan). As Ginsburg falls in love and becomes part of Carrs inner circle, he meets soon-to-be literary stalwarts in Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs along with Carrs associate and probable former lover, David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall). Names like Ginsburg and Kerouac may have hijacked the early hype but its the tacit love triangle that is the films core.
The actor formerly known as Harry Potter is certainly branching out with more diverse character roles. Radcliffe commits fully to the character even if his New York accent comes and goes. Obviously, hes not adverse to nudity (catch clips of his Equus stint on stage) but the sex scenes here dont come off as sensational so much as powerful and central to the film. DeHaans portrayal of Carr is accurate as quick, elegant and aggressive. Lacing the character with a tinge of dread and darkness that only a psychologist can admire is inspired. The moody charisma that pits Kammerer and Ginsburg against each other while never accepting their unrequited love is equally psychopathic and brilliant.
Its hard to tell at this point if Michael C. Hall is the most intense person in the world or if he just plays it really well. As Kammerer, that darkness and intensity is in perfect juxtaposition to Lucien Carrs erudite flights of fancy. Also credit the duo for having more romantic intensity onscreen than any rom-com/chick-flick scrapple that passes for chemistry today.
Kronkidas has great intent in his feature debut but the director unfortunately overreaches. With such a rich period, theres really room for three films among the films story lines, so much so that Ben Fosters, Jack Hustons and Elizabeth Olsens performances are six feet under. He does succeed in telling a story Carr had suppressed and one that is universal in emotional appeal. Failing to live up to the pseudo non-fiction status it aspires to be,
Kill Your Darlings is good when it couldve been great.