Kill Your Darlings (3 stars)

Kill Your Darlings

Daniel Radcliffe and Michael C. Hall in well-cast account of emergence of Beat Generation

Currently, the Beat Generation is to American independent cinema what Marvel’s superheroes are to blockbusters, with each year bringing a new incarnation of the same characters. Following Walter Salles’ long-awaited adaptation of On the Road last year and James Franco’s 2010 take on Allen Ginsberg in Howl, Kill Your Darlings is the ‘origin story’.

It’s 1943, and in the jazz-fuelled corridors of Columbia University the young Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) encounters rebellious Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan), eccentric William Burroughs (Ben Foster) and, later, straight-talkin’ Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston). And so forms a new literary generation.

As with many films that attempt to trace the emergence of a cultural movement, the formation of the Beat Generation is hung upon a few key moments of inspiration in a way that feels simplistic. While Krokidas can’t avoid that inevitability, his use of jazz-infused cutting perfectly captures a sense of restless creativity. Radcliffe is well-cast as Ginsberg, suggesting a burgeoning creativity at odds with his self-conscious exterior. And in a neat bit of casting, Ginsberg’s academic father is nicely played by David Cross, the comedian who played Ginsberg in Todd Haynes’ 2007 experimental Bob Dylan film I’m Not There.

Limited release from Fri 6 Dec.

'Kill Your Darlings' Trailer

Kill Your Darlings

  • 3 stars
  • 2013
  • US
  • 1h 44min
  • Directed by: John Krokidas
  • Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Michael C. Hall
  • UK release: 6 December 2013

A murder in 1944 draws together the great writers of the beat generation: Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.