Friday, November 22, 2013

Kill Your Darlings: Movie Review

The story of Allen Ginsberg during some of his more interesting years.

“Kill Your Darlings” is the story of Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) as he arrives at college and is ushered into a new generation of writers. Ginsberg is young, naïve and innocent. He was raised by his father – a writer (in the very traditional sense), and his mentally unstable mother. Columbia University presents a whole new world, a bright future for this talented man. 2013

Directed by: John Krokidas

Screenplay by: Austin Bunn and John Krokidas

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan

But Columbia University also presents ideas previously unknown to the sheltered Ginsberg. A fellow student stands on a desk reading from a banned book and when someone with authority claims that it is a restricted book, he responds, “That’s why I committed it to memory.” Ginsberg watches with admiration. When he’s looking at a New York subway map, he’s warned not to take a particular place. “It’s the land of the ferries; you’ll never get back.”

Ginsberg never will be the person he was before any of these moments. The film is about the formative years of Allen Ginsberg. The college years that formed him into the writer he became. Which leads me to the screenplay. These writers clearly know their Beat writers providing these visionary characters with dialogue that they probably would have said. But also providing the audience with a structure that we would prefer.

The arrogance and notoriety of the Beat Generation are perfectly captured. It was there in full view, but we met Allen Ginsberg early enough in his life that we still liked him. We really just feel sorry for him when he falls in with Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan). Their attempts to get high and live were wholly unhealthy, but of course they would argue that it leads to producing some of the most creative and widely-read literary works in the world. And that that’s more important than doing anything “normal.” Well, that’s your call.

The film is a mix of the current and future controversy that these young rebel writers are sure to rouse, and an academic study of how a person's life is formed, and genius will come to some. There's a much needed organization to the film and we're not left flailing in the misogyny of the film's subjects. We get to watch from the safety of our living rooms and through the eyes of the much more accessible Allen Ginsberg – a mature Daniel Radcliffe growing up. A subdued performance that captures his intelligence, rebelliousness, and curiousity.

This film is about the characters, how they interact with one another, how they influence one another, and how Allen Ginsberg became the revolutionary poet that the world knows him as. “Kill Your Darlings” is a story of sex, drugs and murder. The former elements are of course present in every story of the Beat Generation, but the latter is what provides a new element for this film, to give the story a fresh take and something interesting to say.

Best of 2013