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104 min.
John Krokidas
Drama, Romance, Biography
Rating *
Votes *
6.4% (1:16)
* View IMDb information

Top comments

  1. CinemaDump's avatar


    Daniel Radcliffe still has some proving to do post-Potter. The Woman in Black is pretty good as a movie but it doesn't give Daniel any time to show his talent. He also seemed a bit ill-suited for the role because he seems to young to have a daughter and be an established lawyer. Although not that scary, it was pretty decent if not the best test for Radcliffe's skills. It's a horror movie after all. Kill Your Darlings on the other hand requires Radcliffe to be in top form.

    The movie is set in the 1940's and begins with Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) trying to get into Columbia University. His father is a poet and his mother suffers from some sort of mental illness. This causes Allen to be very close to her and very protective as well. His place at Columbia is assured but is disappointed to find the school so traditional and stuffy. He unites with Lucien Carr, Jack Kerouac and William Boroughs in what would become the Beat Generation. This is basically a counter-cultural movement that liberalized published literature in the United States. This didn't come without some pretty significant trouble though.
    You wouldn't think that Kill Your Darlings is John Krokidas' directoral debut. Drama and tension is well handled and nothing feels rushed either. The story is about the early development of the Beat Generation before any publications actually get out and it feels well handled. Krokidas also utilizes his actors very well.

    Without a doubt, the standout of Kill Your Darlings is Dane DeHaan. He bleeds Lucien Carr until he dies from blood loss. It's very intense and he's worth seeing the movie for. The cast is actually pretty loaded with Michael C. Hall, Ben Foster, Elizabeth Olsen and strangely enough David Cross who plays Allen Ginsberg's father. It took me a while to recognize Cross without his usual grizzled mug but he does pretty well in his limited screen time.

    On the subject of Daniel Radcliffe, he too also had a good performance. I don't know why but I feel like he was sheltered a tiny bit in certain instances but I feel insane for saying so. In the instances where he isn't sheltered at all, it's unbelievable what Radcliffe is able to do. His performance feels like a stage performance and he does what very few actors would be willing to do.

    The mise en scène is well done and captures the atmosphere of the time properly. There are a couple of drug usage scenes that don't go too far and the dialogue is good. All I can say is that I'm happy that I'm not friends with writers. If Kill Your Darlings is used as an example, I wouldn't be able to understand 1/10th of the references they make to literature.

    The script does a great job at presenting these figureheads of the Beat Generation but letting the viewer decide their value. Are they just drug-addled idiots or is their movement of any importance? Does tradition hold our society back? I think that's a good question and it's definitely something worth exploring.

    Kill Your Darlings is a movie worth seeing besides the fact that it is Daniel Radcliffe's purest performance in cinema so far. Yes he's done good work but the real star is Dane DeHaan and the story is really worth seeing the movie for. In the end, you can't do much better than Kill Your Darling for a look into the counter cultural movement of the 40's.

    8 years 4 months ago
  2. Marasmusine's avatar


    Hah, you could watch Beat (2000) immediately afterwards for an interesting double bill.

    This was okay, but the anachronistic music score (to make some scenes more "exciting" I guess) really annoyed me.
    7 years 8 months ago
  3. ikkegoemikke's avatar


    "Some things, once you've loved them, become yours forever. And if you try to let them go... They only circle back and return to you. They become part of who you are...
    ...or they destroy you."


    After watching a few blockbusters I always get the urge to put on a not so commercial film. The title of this one combined with the fact that I'm not a real expert in literature, made ​​sure that my expectations about "Kill your darlings" were totally misjudged. The phrase "Kill your darlings" is used in literary circles and is a maxim for writers and poets to delete favorite wordings, adjectives or phrases so that their writings become tighter and not defiled with unnecessary ballast. So you can expect to hear a lot of intellectual posturing in this film. It's actually a biographical drama about the origins of the "beat generation" in America and the young adults who support this : Allen Ginsburg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. All of them became renowned writers and poets after wards.

    I also was an avid bookworm in the past and I devoured innumerable books. I wasn't a fan of the literature with a capital L, but rather took pleasure in reading books written by Jack Vance, Raymond Elias Feist, Terry Pratchett, Terry Goodkind and Koontz among others. Not exactly literary heavyweights but masters of the fantasy and SF genre. My intellectual level probably wasn't of such a nature that I could appreciate magical realism, expressionism or neo-romanticism. Just as modern art, I think it means, describing the most trivial objects in such way, that they become fascinating objects. At one stage Allen, William and Lucien shred some books from great writers in pieces, and text fragments are nailed to the wall so they can form a coherent whole. A creation of literature out of chaos as it were. However I can empathize with the mood of the characters involved. I myself was also such a rebel once and didn't have the attitude of walking within the lines. Ultimately, you can see these beatniks as early forerunners of an anarchist movement in literature. Kicking the standardized writers who abide all elitist rules and styles in the shins.

    The film is set in the aftermath of the 2nd World War, which is reflected in the whole atmosphere : the decor, the props, the music and the zeitgeist. This is also the most successful item in this film directed by John Krokidas. His first feature film he surely can be proud of and in which he succeeds in portraying the feeling of that time. You are witnessing the tipping point in the prudish American society where the youth of that time was looking for new trends and creative outlets. This manifested itself in dank little pubs where they played jazz, pseudo intellectual gatherings where gallons of alcohol was being consumed, experimenting with all kinds of mind-altering drugs and scanning the sexual boundaries and tolerances in this area.

    The performances were all sublime. Dane DeHaan as the extrovert and intellectual Lucien Carr, the pivotal figure in this whole drama, who does look like a gay, blue-eyed blonde charmer, but reflects a genuine uncertainty about his sexual orientation. Michael "Dexter" Hall, who recently starred in "Cold in July", plays a homosexual stalker who sinks to the bottom of some pond in the beginning of the film. Jack Huston as Jack Kerouac. Ben Foster as William Burroughs. An intellectual who comes from a wealthy family, who's constantly experimenting with all sorts of drugs and therefore speaks in slow motion with a deep, rough voice the entire movie. And Daniel "Harry" Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg. Radcliffe really does some effort to finally wipe that "Potter" stamp away. I have to admit that he plays in this film with very different magic wands. And yet I admire him for not giving in and choosing the obvious roles. After his not so bad performance in "The woman in black" he's now trying a more serious role with some fairly bold homosexual scenes. I'm still wondering about his sexual orientation now. The passion he shows while kissing his male opponents speaks volumes. And despite his efforts, once and a while that "Harry Potter"-smile that made him famous, appears again. After he sees the act of Carr in the school library you can admire that boyish roguish smile. The only thing missing is that twinkle in his eyes. Not a bad performance, but at times it was really superficial and it seemed more like a Shakespearean tragedy.

    A difficult film. And despite its boring subject, it continued to fascinate me. A crime drama without that much drama. A passion that leads to a crime, but it's certainly not the emphasis. It's rather a film full of philosophical musings and constant literary debating by those who'll be the greatest in literature. All this with a solid bottle of wine and glass of whiskey after a hearty sniff of nitrous oxide. At times I also wished I had that in reach so this film would be more light-hearted. But still, respect for Radcliffe.

    More reviews here
    4 years 11 months ago
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