May 15, 2014

Review: Kill Your Darlings (2013)

Daniel Radcliffe still has some proving to do post-Potter. The Woman in Black was pretty good as a movie but it didn't give Daniel any time to show his talent. He also seemed a bit ill-suited for the role because he seems too young to have a daughter and be an established lawyer. Although not that scary, it was pretty decent. 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.

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Genre: biography, drama, romance
Directed by: John Krokidas
Produced by: Michael Benaroya, Rose Ganguzza, John Krokidas, etc.
Written by: Austin Bunn, John Krokidas
Music by: Nico Muhly
Running time: 104 minutes
Production company: Killer Films, Benaroya Pictures, Outpost Studios
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics, The Works UK Distribution, Koch Media, etc. 
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: $1,030,064 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Michael C. Hall, Jack Huston, Ben Foster, David Cross, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Elizabeth Olsen, John Cullum, Brenda Wehle, Erin Darke, Craig Chester

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Review


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.

Rating


7/10