KILL YOUR DARLINGS
DIRECTED BY John Krokidas
STARS Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan
Ben Foster (background), Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan in Kill Your Darlings. (Photo: Sony Pictures Classics)
The Beat goes on with Kill Your Darlings, which finds former Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe gripping a different sort of wand as he essays the role of American poet Allen Ginsberg. The latest in the recent string of films (following Howl, On the Road and the yet-to-play-Charlotte Big Sur) focusing on various members of the Beat Generation, this one's set in 1944, as a boyish Ginsberg arrives at Columbia University and immediately falls for the loquacious Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan). Hanging out with fellow writers — and fellow rebels — Jack Kerouac (a robust Jack Huston) and William S. Burroughs (a drolly amusing Ben Foster), the pair forge ahead with their so-named "New Vision" literary movement; they encounter many distractions, though, especially the stalking of Carr by his mentor David Kammerer (Dexter's Michael C. Hall), an older man whose longtime infatuation with the lad eventually leads to a fatal stabbing.
Writer-director John Krokidas and co-scripter Austin Bunn, former college roommates making their joint feature-film debut, have crafted an interesting if patchy film that at least fares better than the woeful On the Road in allowing these iconic figures to come alive on screen. Radcliffe fights hard to shed his wizard image and only partially succeeds, but there's nothing wrong with DeHaan's vibrant performance as the tortured Carr. Yet ultimately, the film is too mannered, too restrained, to really catch fire. Even with all these revolutionary writers at its center, it chooses to whisper when it should howl.