Kill Your Darlings

Kill Your Darlings
Directed by John Krokidas
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Ben Foster, Jack Huston and Michael C. Hall
In UK Cinemas December 6th, 2013

by Joanna Orland

When thinking of actors to best play the legendary Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, the English actor Daniel Radcliffe, best known for playing Harry Potter, would’ve been the last to come to mind.  My preconceptions of Radcliffe’s Ginsbergian talents were off the mark.  He fully encompasses Allen’s character, bringing a new and wonderful rendition of the late poet to life on screen.

Kill Your Darlings opens with the most enigmatic scene.  A young man cradling an older wearied man in a pool of water.  There is blood.  There is poetry.  There is imprisonment.  There is tension.  There is love lost.

The story then goes back in time to Allen Ginsberg’s less than nurturing household.  His mother is mentally unstable, his father a poet, and Allen is about to embark on his journey as a student at Columbia University.  It is at Columbia where he learns the fundamentals of poetry, rhyme, and metre, which he dismisses as simple and boring.  He is searching for something more, and he finds it in his friend Lucien Carr (an enigmatic and brilliant DeHaan).  Together with William S. Burroughs (Foster) and Jack Kerouac (Huston), these four are eager to tear down the literary institution with their New Vision.

This is a well known story about the foundation of the Beat Generation.  What is surprising about this film is the subplot that is much less well known – Murder.

David Kammerer (Hall) is the victim.  Lucien Carr is the murderer.  What unfolds is shocking and scandalous.  It is rather unclear how a story of such consequence could vanish within the history of these men’s literary works. Now that I have been made aware of its occurrence, it will be the first thing to come to mind when thinking of Ginsberg, Kerouac or Burroughs.

The film does well to follow the entangled group of young writers, full of promise and insecurity, to a messy climax that has somehow not overshadowed the careers and legacies of the Beat Generation.

Our BFI London Film Festival red carpet interviews with the cast:

Dane DeHaan

Dane DeHaan talks about his character Lucien Carr in Kill Your Darlings.

Jack Huston

Jack Huston on researching his role of Jack Kerouac.

Daniel Radcliffe

Daniel Radcliffe on Allen Ginsberg.

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