Kill Your Darlings (2013)

Content by Tony Macklin. Originally published on November 24, 2013 @

Kill Your Darlings is more about the makers of the Bleat Generation than the Beat Generation.

Set in 1944, the movie focuses on three young, burgeoning writers - Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and William Burroughs (Ben Foster). They eventually became the foundation of the Beats, but the movie portrays them as though they are members of the Dead Poets Society.

Daniel Radcliffe looks more like T.S. Eliot than the zealous, pressure-cooked New Yorker who helped revolutionize poetry. There is no howl in the movie's young pup. He's basically a wide-eyed onlooker. The movie's Ginsberg probably would wind up writing advertising copy somewhere.

Kill Your Darlings - awkwardly juggling some factual material - is the story about how Allen Ginsberg got involved in a murder.

The very impressionable Ginsberg enters Columbia University, where he falls under the winsome spell of a charismatic student, Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan). Ginsberg is the son of a stern poet (David Cross) and an emotional mentally-ill mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh). His parents are a heavy psychological burden on him.

At Columbia, Allen begins to flourish.

He's friends with Burroughs and Kerouac. But it's doubtful that the movie's three amigos could write a single creative sentence, much less be leaders in a literary/social movement. Instead, like the Hardy Boys, they get involved in a murder.

David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall) is lethally smitten with Lucien Carr, and the trio react.

John Krokidas directs with broad, spastic strokes. His screenplay with Austin Bunn is hit-or-miss. It misses a lot. Krokidas loves facial close-ups. He does not love subtlety.

Facts do not make truth. Truth must be told truly.

I met Allen Ginsberg. But I know not to make any personal comparisons. I once wrote that I knew John Wayne, and Jeff Bridges (True Grit, 2010) was no John Wayne. An obvious assumption, but I got shellacked by an angry mob. So Daniel Potterberg do your damndest.

Elizabeth Olsen portrays Kerouac's girl friend Edie Parker as wallpaper.

In Kill Your Darlings, there are no darlings.

The only thing they kill is authenticity.

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