Thursday, October 24, 2013


Be careful, you are not in Wonderland.
I've heard the strange madness long growing in your soul.
But you are fortunate in your ignorance, in your isolation.
You, who have suffered find where love hides, give, share, lose,
Lest we die unbloomed.

Played by the versatile Daniel Radcliffe, who has officially escaped the bounds of his Harry Potter history, a young Allen Ginsberg recites this poem aboard a stolen boat with fellow ignitors of the Beat Generation, Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan). As much as the film is about these radicals, also including William Burroughs (Ben Foster), it's also a film about the secrets and desires that fuel the need to break away from the typical, to escape rhyme and meter, the status quo. For Ginsberg, that was as much about coming into his writing as it was coming into his sexuality.

The story is as much about Ginsberg as it is about the mysterious, seductive and alluring Lucien Carr who Ginsberg becomes fixated on. Lucien would eventually break from the group and demand his name be removed from "Howl and Other Poems" to whom Ginsberg dedicated it. The plot pivots around a scandalous murder, of Lucien's mentor and predator, David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall) who becomes frighteningly obsessed with Lucien throughout their arrangement of schoolwork in exchange for sex. Lucien was struggling with his sexuality, teasing Ginsberg, but accustomed to men like him having to lurk in the shadows, denying their true selves. This interplay between expression, sexuality and creating a movement is where John Krokidas' debut feature is most interesting.

The editing matches the trippy, freewheeling style of the Beats but also brings the film into misshapen tonal confusion. But again, the film's saving grace is the sordid romantic entanglement between Radcliffe's Ginsberg and DeHaan's Lucien. The former's yearning for the latter is expertly conceived, and it's how "Kill Your Darlings" transcends its subject material, capturing the fledgling state of any budding creative, a freshman at a prolific college where only the world stands before him.

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