An engrossing take on the writers of the Beat Generation during their formative years, Kill Your Darlings is a unique blend of love-cum-murder story that evolves around the piercing-blue-eyed and sexually-enhanced Lucien Carr [Dane DeHann]—his lover-professor-stalker David Krammerer [Michael C Hall], who gets killed by Carr in the very opening—and Carr’s erotic fascination William Burroughs [ Ben Foster], the inhaler of nitrous oxide who sits in the bath tub.
Enter Allen Ginsberg [Daniel Radcliffe] an innocently idealistic boy, a freshman at Columbia University.
Shell shocked by excitement, eager to test his wings in the newer and bigger sky of Columbia University he is soon entrapped in the vicious net of his surroundings, all replete with sex and drugs and what have you.
As eager as Carr is to have his flings with him and subjecting the freshman to become ghost writer for his college assignments, Allen is all agog to do his bidding and acquire not only Carr’s heightened gay sensuality but also the latter’s poise and confidence which he seems to lack and crave for.
Marijuana, wild parties, nightclub frequenting, deriding establishment norms as well as established writers of comic verse like Ogden Nash: all against the dark clouds of World War II becomes the norm but the wilding ends as Carr, Jack Kerouac [ Jack Huston], and William Burroughs face arrest.
The film is watchable for superb performance by Radcliffe, especially when he oscillates between making public his knowledge about the murder or effecting a compromise with principles to save a friend.
In deference to the title, Allen’s persona embodies the Falkner-ian advice to budding writers to dissociate from favourite points in the past ie ‘kill their darlings’.
The sensitively filmed biopic does reasonable justice to the college days of the Beat Generation and is worth watching if for nothing than to see Radcliffe, complete with nerdy round specs, emerge out of Harry-Potter-mould.
But one has to be a die-hard fan of the Beat Generation to rake up a sustained enthusiasm to stay still during the 103 minutes of reel time.
By Joseph R
Rating 2.5 stars