UK Release Date: 6th December 2013
Runtime: 104 minutes
Director: John Krokidas
Writer: John Krokidas, Austin Bunn
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Michael C Hall, Jack Huston, Ben Foster, Elizabeth Olsen
Synopsis: The story of the start of the Beat movement in literature and the murder case that threatened the movement in its earliest days.
Daniel Radcliffe has arguably had the most interesting post-Potter career of the central trio. Rupert Grint has taken to the stage and Emma Watson has taken to supporting roles in films like My Week With Marilyn and lead turns in further teen fare like the sublime Perks of Being a Wallflower and the significantly less sublime The Bling Ring.
In the meantime, Radcliffe has carved out an interesting niche in indie movies, like gutsy, intriguing Beat biopic Kill Your Darlings.
Along with friends William Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston), they form the Beat Generation, aiming to revolutionise literature forever. But everything changes under the influence of obsessive older men David Kammerer (Michael C Hall).
At the centre of Kill Your Darlings are a trio of stunning performances. Radcliffe nails the innocence and naïveté of Ginsberg, whilst Dexter’s Michael C Hall is suitably creepy and imposing as Kammerer.
The true star, though, is Chronicle leading man Dane DeHaan who simmers with a blistering performance as Lucien Carr. Carr is a force of nature, whirling through life seemingly without a care, but with issues rumbling away constantly under the assured facade. DeHaan’s portrayal is a revelation, cementing him as a true star of the future.
Under the directorial eye of John Krokidas, Kill Your Darlings is an exquisitely designed piece of period cinema. The only problem is that the fast-paced script sometimes flies past details that really should’ve been given a touch more explanation. Fortunately, plenty of time is left for some killer dialogue and a number of genuinely funny moments.
The actual literature of the Beat movement plays second fiddle to the more scandalous narratives at play here, with sexual exploration and the need to push boundaries emerging as the main themes. This is a true, brave reflection of the Beats, as literature was used by them as a vehicle to air grievances and desires.
Kill Your Darlings isn’t perfect, but it is a solid, gutsy indie that showcases a cavalcade of future acting talent and opens up the Beat poets to a whole new generation of readers.
Pop or Poop?
Truly shocking and brave enough to deal with the light and shade of the Beat Generation, Kill Your Darlings is a strong biopic that has Daniel Radcliffe truly coming of age, alongside his red hot firebrand of a co-star Dane DeHaan.
A little too slight to really hit the detail, Kill Your Darlings still manages to be an emotional, often funny, take on one of the most important periods of literature in living memory.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.