Director: john Krokidas
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Michael C. Hall, Elizabeth Olsen, Ben Foster, Jennifer Jason Leigh . USA . 1h 35m
A sort of coming of age of the Beat Poets, Kill Your Darlings presents a “as they were” to the major literary movement. Krokidas uses a small time 1940’s murder as a feature to lead into how these soon to be famous writers first met. He romanticize everything, including all the negative aspects of the characters, their argumentative nature and self destructive tendencies are all keys of inspiration but the film wallows in a faux nostalgia and sensationalism rather than digging deeper to provide a better insight.
The outspoken provocative leader of the gang is played by Dane DeHaan, a riveting performance as he reveals the many facets of Lucien Carr, the Columbia University student who take freshmen Ginsberg (Radcliffe) under his wing, navigating their seedy world of sex, drugs and Jazz, yet the top billing goes to Radcliffe, as he attempts to drop his Harry Potter career behind him yet again. Lucien’s character brings danger and excitement to the movie, his inert needs to escape his parents influence and be something new causes a dysfunction within him and chaos all around.
As Ginsberg goes further down the rabbit hole, he starts to idolise the writers for all the new qualities that he’s learning about, and it’s a steep curve. But when you’re dealing with such diverse people such as the dapper William Burroughs (Foster) you can understand the debauchery that is soon to come, and with the addition of a love triangle and rivalry things become … unhinged. Avoiding trouble like the Teflon Don and playing everyone off against each other, Carr has a talent for building tension between his booze soaked peers.
Overall this stylish drama has a lot of energy when needed. There’s a risky midnight library raid against the backdrop of Wolf Like Me, but that’s the only real scene of anarchy abandonment, instead Krokidas, plays on the more charming aspects, almost as if he refuses to allow them to be seen in any negative light.
The period detailing is brilliant, if the film was in sepia tones it would almost play out like an original reel. The only downside is that he content is inviting but so very standard, without scraping below the surface to show the true colours.
Bursting with original hipster energy and ideas, this fact based drama sizzle within the retro atmosphere of the birth of the Beats while stylishly morphing into a bitter crime thriller seamlessly.
R: Set fire to the stars (2014) Beat (2000), Howl (2010), On the road (2012), Life (2015)
5s: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan