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London Film Festival 2013: Kill Your Darlings - Review

Kill Your Darlings

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

DANIEL Radcliffe takes another step further away from his Harry Potter persona in John Krokidas flawed but intriguing Kill Your Darlings.

A look at the early days of the Beat Generation, the film follows a young Allen Ginsberg (Radcliffe) during his freshman year at Columbia in 1944 and the murder that drew him together with fellow poets and writers Lucien Carr, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.

Krokidas’ film is arguably at its most interesting during the moments surrounding the murder, and is more relaxed and conventional during its exploration of its central characters’ sexuality (which contributes to a slightly plodding middle section).

But it is never less than superbly performed and looks great throughout. Radcliffe, for his part, convinces wholly as Ginsberg (despite bearing little physical resemblance) and neatly taps into both the insecurity and eventual bravery of his young poet. It’s a demanding role and one that the young actor grasps as a great opportunity to extend his range.

But he’s surrounded by a great ensemble, not least Dane DeHaan, who excels as the volatile Carr. Indeed, it was Carr that Ginsberg later dedicated his famous poem Howl to and there’s a raw energy to their relationship that is driven by the intensity of DeHaan’s portrayal. He’s a livewire, often dangerous presence to be around. And DeHaan regularly commands the screen.

Ben Foster and Jack Huston also contribute memorably to, respectively, Burroughs and Kerouac, while Dexter‘s Michael C Hall is a typically imposing presence in the pivotal role of David Kammerer.

But there are great, if sometimes fleeting, performances running throughout the movie, with David Cross, Elizabeth Olsen and Jennifer Jason Leigh also making an impresion in some way.

Krokidas, for his part, imbues the film with a visually distinctive style that is easy on the eye and stylish, while allowing plenty of time for the emotional complexities to play out. His film deserves a lot of credit for bringing a fresh perspective to the Beat poets, even if the pacing sometimes lets him down. There is still plenty to recommend it.

Certificate: 15tbc
Running time: 104mins
UK Release Date: December 6, 2013
London Film Festival Dates: October 17 (OWE2, 9pm), October 18 (Vue5, 3pm)