Film Review: KILL YOUR DARLINGS

Directed by John Krokidas
Written by John Krokidas and Austin Bunn
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane De Haan, Michael C. Hall, Ben Foster, Jack Huston

There seem to be subjects that do not make great films and treatments of literary figures seems to be one of them. And the group of men, who came to be known as the Beats, seems especially hard to capture. I think this is the third film this year that centers on Jack Kerouac and his friends. None have been successful. In this case, the film should have worked because instead of focusing on their burgeoning literary careers, it focused on a most cinematic subject: the murder of the homosexual lover of one of the more fringe players.

The film is largely seen through the eyes of Alan Ginsberg (Radcliffe) as he begins college at Columbia in 1944. He is immediately attracted by the antics of Lucien Carr (De Haan) and a circle of friends quickly forms with Burroughs (Foster) and Kerouac (Huston) the other players. But Carr has baggage that comes in the shape of David Kammerer (Hall), an older man who has been following Carr from college to college.

We have no sympathy for these young men. They are mostly rich and spoiled. The film never conveys any sense of urgency about discovery of the intellectual life. Instead the men raise hell (in sophomoric ways), take drugs, and spout moronic sentiments. Radcliffe seems miscast here. You don’t believe him as the cavalier Ginsberg. Only his scenes with his mother (Jason Leigh) have heft.

Pretty disappointing.