Co-written and directed by John Krokidas. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Michael C. Hall, and Ben Foster.
The pornographic obsession with The Beats isn’t coming to an end anytime soon. After last year’s decent, if overlong film version of On the Road, I wasn’t counting the days until the next adventure with Kerouac and Co., but here it is. Kill Your Darlings is an account of Allen Ginsberg’s emerging poetic voice as he falls for hedonist Lucien Carr in his freshman year at Columbia. Carr’s murder of his sugar daddy, David Kammerer, provides structure for the plot, though John Krokidas relies too heavily on true events to say anything important or new about them.
As with all of Daniel Radcliffe’s post-Harry Potter efforts, a progress report feels appropriate. I like what he did here as Allen Ginsberg. His commitment to the role shows as he navigates through a range of emotions including astonishment, passion and disgust at his surroundings. His chemistry with DeHaan as the beautiful and tortured Carr elevates the unimpressive script into sexy and scary territory. The rest of the cast is stuck in caricature mode. Particularly disappointing is Ben Foster’s monotonous William S. Burroughs, who serves solely as comedic relief. These figures are all more complex than Krokidas’ limited interpretation of them.
There’s simply too much story for Krokidas to fit into a two-hour film. The context of the World War II backdrop is faint in the background of the gay coming of age tale and he can never quite find the balance between style and substance with unnecessary graphics and time-shifting breaking the otherwise appropriate pace. The soundtrack is highly distracting with period-appropriate music at the beginning and familiar tunes by TV on the Radio and Bloc Party in the middle and conclusion. The project is far too ambitious for Krokidas’ unrefined directorial and writing styles. There’s a little promise there in the relationship between Ginsberg and Carr, though, and I’d like to see him find his footing with an original piece.