Kill Your Darlings: Just Killing Time—Movie

If you know nothing much about Allen Ginsberg before seeing “Kill Your Darlings,” despite good performances from all involved, you won’t know a whole lot more after leaving the theatre.Kill Your Darlings

Directed by John Krokidas and written by Krokidas and Austin Bunn, “Kill Your Darlings” is about the early college days of Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe). Coming from a slightly dysfunctional New Jersey home with a mentally disturbed mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and a caring father, but not so caring husband, poet and teacher Louis (David Cross), Ginsberg is eager to begin his journey as a writer at Columbia University.

During a school tour, Ginsberg “meets cute” with Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) and is soon thrust into his circle of future literary giants for friends—Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and  William Burroughs (Ben Foster)—the most prominent. Casting a shadow over this group is David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall). Kammerer is a former teacher of Carr’s who follows him from St. Louis to New York City and is a key figure in the “Kill Your Darlings” story.

Set in the mid 1940s, “Kill Your Darlings” is ostensibly about the early members of the Beat Generation told through the eyes of Allen Ginsberg. While that much is true, the real star of the movie is Dane DeHaan’s Lucien Carr. As David Kammerer says to Ginsberg, “We’re the ones he needs, but never wants.” It’s impossible to take your eyes off him and no one does. Carr always seems to be at the center of the action. Whether or not DeHaan looks anything like Carr is hard to say, but DeHaan’s Carr throws off an indolent charm and his blue/grey eyes are hard to resist.

All of the acting is terrific. Daniel Radcliffe shines as the somewhat shy, but open to anything Ginsberg. Michael C. Hall is very credible as the creepy Kammerer and, as noted, DeHaan is especially convincing. David Cross and Jennifer Jason Leigh in smaller roles are very good.

For a movie about the founders of the Beat Generation, we just don’t learn very much about them and their movement. Why was this group so influential? Surely it was more than about non-rhyming poetry. What was it?  What made Ginsberg special? “Kill Your Darlings” is an interesting teaser, but I want more.

2 nuggets out of 4

 

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