Kill Your Darlings

Directed By: John Krokidas

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Ben Foster, Michael C. Hall, Jack Huston, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Elizabeth Olsen

"Another lover hits the universe; the circle is broken."
-Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan)

The Beat generation is getting a healthy dose of attention lately from independent filmmakers.  Earlier this year, Walter Salles tried to adapt Jack Kerouac's On the Road.  Despite a rather robust cast, things didn't work out terribly well for Salles.  This weekend, John Krokidas is tackling a biographical tale of the three founding fathers of the Beat generation and their literary counterculture — Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs.  Like On the Road, Krokidas's Kill Your Darlings is a bit underwhelming.  I don't mind being transported back to the 1940s, but I wouldn't mind if Krokidas picked up the pace of the film just a bit.

Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) is an aspiring poet like his father Louis (David Cross).  He gets his chance to make his mark when he's accepted to Columbia University.  Though he respects what those before him have done, he wants to change the world of poetry.  He's not looking to be the person everyone expects him to be or to adhere to tradition.  He's interested in charting his own path.  When he meets Lucien Carr (DeHaan), a whole new universe is opened up to him as well as a new lover.  The film chronicles the events leading up to Lucien's murder of his onetime lover David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall) as well as Ginsberg's founding of the Beat generation with Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster).

For a film about the Beat generation and the beginnings of their literary counterculture, Kill Your Darlings certainly plays like a pretty straightforward drama that follows the vast majority of cinematic conventions.  If I were in John Krokidas's shoes and making a film about a generation that pushed the envelope doing things their own way, I would have tried to incorporate this way of working into my filmmaking process.  This would symbolically honor Ginsberg and his contemporaries in the most meaningful way.  As it stands, Kill Your Darlings is a bland, brooding thriller that will lose you before it gets started.  It's a film that follows all the rules.

The actors deliver decent performances.  For his part as Ginsberg, Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe once again attempts to demonstrate his versatility and his capacity to tackle films outside of Hogwarts.  I must give him credit for giving this conflicted offbeat figure considerable emotional depth.  For his part as Ginsberg's mentor and lover Lucien Carr, Dane DeHaan gives a fiery performance.  The Chronicle star is committed to the role and certainly does well on screen.  The other supporting cast members deliver solid performances but don't necessarily stand out.

Kill Your Darlings is certainly not my cup of tea.  That being said, I doubt it's yours either.  This movie is entirely too slow for my taste.  Kill Your Darlings gets a 0.09% rating.  Have a few Rusty Nails with this one.