Review: Kill Your Darlings is a Killer

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Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg in Kill Your Darlings. (Jessica Miglio/Sony Pictures Classics)

Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg in Kill Your Darlings. (Jessica Miglio/Sony Pictures Classics)

For anyone who thought that Daniel Radcliffe was not going to be able to successfully take on a role after the Harry Potter series, you can now stand corrected. Very similar glasses aside, Radcliffe shines in his most recent role as a young Allen Ginsberg in Kill Your Darlings.

Nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Festival, Kill Your Darlings is an homage to the beginnings of the Beat Movement. It tells the story of Lucien Carr, his relationship to Ginsberg, and the killing of David Kammerer.

Set in the forties and stylized by modern music and graphics, Kill Your Darlings gives the viewer a unique perspective of a scandal that is only glossed over in your upper division English courses.

The movie is a wet dream for any contemporary bookworm. It’s littered with references and visualizations of the genesis of Carr and Ginsberg’s new vision. Much like Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, it’s a chance for the viewer to spend some time with the literary heroes they have been inspired by. It’s a moving phenomenon, especially when captured accurately.

Aside from being visually and thematically attractive, this film is executed by an excellent cast. Of course Radcliffe hits the mark as Ginsberg. But his performance is made all the more intriguing by Dane DeHaan, who gives a multi-layered portrayal of Lucien Carr. You don’t know if he is brilliant or fraudulent, a murderer or a victim. It’s really fascinating to watch.

Also fighting the pigeonhole effect in Kill Your Darlings is Michael C. Hall, who plays David Kammerer. It’s initially shocking to see Dexter playing an increasingly vulnerable gay man that eventually gets murdered. But we also thought we’d never see Radcliffe in a role where he wasn’t waving a wand. Kammerer gives an excellent performance as he navigates a difficult character in a way that is intriguing and surprisingly relatable.

In short, Kill Your Darlings is a win. Look for it in select theaters over the next few months and on various online outlets after that. It’s a quality film about a very intriguing event in literary history. Book worm or not, it’s film that’ most definitely worth the time.

Kill Your Darlings is now playing in select theaters.


Kill Your Darlings
Sony Pictures Classics

4 stars

Films are rated on a scale of 5 stars (must-see), 4 stars (exceptional), 3 stars (solid), 2 stars (average) and 1 star (unworthy).

Patrick Meissner is a Staff Reporter for Living Out Loud - LA, covering lifestyle and entertainment.
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