It may sound weird, but there once was a time when poetry ruled the world. Forget all the texting and slang terms of late and recall the glory days of rhyme and rhythm. The poet’s of the Beat Generation standout among the best that the world has ever seen and heard. Their style and words moved people in ways thought unimaginable. But, behind every success is a tale of disparity and secrecy that the world only catches a glimpse of. It’s a story or stories like that which come to define a person and their work.
Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) grew up with a father (David Cross) passionate about poetry and a mother (Jennifer Leigh) burdened by paranoia. Upon receiving acceptance into Columbia, Allen manages to distance himself from the world he knew. Once at school, Allen has the pleasure of meeting Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan), a carefree and alluring young man obsessed with poetry. It’s through Lucien that Allen meets fellow poets William Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston). Together, these men stared a literary revolution with their words and ideals.
Unsure of his own feelings, Allen begins to fall for Lucien, but there’s one man keeping the two apart. Before he met Allen, Lucien was involved with David Krammerer (Michael C. Hall), an older and more intimidating man. Feeling taped by David, Lucien makes every attempt to get rid of him, while also keeping him close because of their history. Even if Lucien is using him, Allen can’t fight his feelings and is roped along for a journey full of heartbreak and horror. When tragedy strikes and the men of the Beat Generation come under question, Allen has to think hard about his life and the choices he feels that he should make.
Not being all that familiar with poetry and the Beat Generation, this film was a great look into the lives of a few men who dared to be different in a time that seemed inopportune. The words flowed well and the meaning behind them is all the more intriguing.
Led by a predominately young cast, Kill Your Darlings excels because of the performances that it’s composed of. Radcliffe, again, proves that he can act well outside of Harry Potter. His naivety and curiosity as Ginsberg makes the character all the more human and even a bit relatable. DeHaan, whose talent is wildly under-appreciated, plays the tormented lover with excellence and his flair to compensate is rather enjoyable. As for Foster and Huston, the two are more reserved with their portrayals, but they completely become their characters, which speaks to their acting abilities.
The direction and editing in the film also stands out as one of the stronger aspects. Director John Krokidas creates many appealing scenes that flow very well with the films progression. Overlapping scenes work amazingly and the implementation that occurs allows your mind to piece the story together. Coupled with the directing is the editing, which elicits emotion from you in some fantastic sequences. The two work hand-in-hand in order to tell a very odd and packed story.
Despite enjoying a more sinister and emotional performance from Hall, I felt that his character was greatly underused and severely underdeveloped. We really only get an outside perspective of the character and that doesn’t help us understand why his character is the way he is. Going back to underused characters, Foster and Huston don’t get to add too much to the story. Considering that they’re essential members of the Beat Generation, they’re thrown to the way side and only used for the film’s advancement.
Being an hour-and-forty minutes long, you’d think that the film would have enough time to make you care for its characters and still be able to two a complete story. The dialog and interactions of most if the characters feels flat and you just never emotionally connect with anyone, except for Allen that is. The story gets lost in translation as the pace and balance often come across as uneven. If not fire the great performances, this film would not have fared so well.
Deep within the history of the Beat Generation is a story that’s been tucked away. Kill Your Darlings attempts to put said story on display, but falls somewhat flat when trying to tell it. The cast, led by the wonderful performances from Radcliffe and DeHaan, save the film from losing the audience’s attention. The film is fun at times, but a lack of consistency ends up being its Achilles heel.
Kill Your Darlings Trailer