Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Kill Your Darlings (Movie Review)

By Freda Cooper 04.12.2013 4

Kill Your Darlings (UK Rating: 15)

The headlines are already out there - "Harry Potter in Gay Sex Scene!" and it's just as well the media have got them out of the way early. They are a distraction that John Krokidas doesn't need or deserve for his first feature film, Kill Your Darlings.

The film follows the early lives of what became the Beat Generation poets - Allen Ginsburg (Daniel Radcliffe), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and William Burroughs (Ben Foster) - and how a murder in 1944 provided the spark that brought them together as a movement.

Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Kill Your Darlings (Movie Review)


The meaning of the title is explained early on; it's a quotation from Willliam Faulkner used by Ginsberg's poetry lecturer to explain how he can become a good - and, hopefully, successful - writer and poet. He needs to 'kill off' all the things that he loves because they will hold him back. Ultimately, it is what the young Ginsberg does, but the phrase also comes back to haunt him when the murder occurs. The killing involves the object of his affection, Lucien Carr (the impossibly beautiful and androgynous Dane DeHaan) whose own private life is, to put it mildly, complicated.

The murder provides a powerful climax to the movie and is upsetting in equal measure - but it's also decidedly ambiguous. We are, as we discover, seeing Ginsberg's version, written after the event in the hope of getting Lucien acquitted. He wasn't actually there.

The relationship between Carr and Ginsberg has echoes of Brideshead Revisited: Ginsberg coming from a less affluent background and adoring the privileged yet capricious Carr, who picks up and puts down people like they were toys. However, everybody around him adores him, regardless of how badly he treats them.

Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Kill Your Darlings (Movie Review)


This is a riveting, intense and thrilling film. It paints probably the most "Rock 'n' Roll" picture anyone is ever likely to see of the mid-1940s: drugs, drink, sex (gay and straight) and betrayal are all there, making it a rollercoaster ride. It's a remarkably impressive debut from John Krokidas who, hitherto, has only made shorts and earned a nomination for the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Sundance.

The acting is nigh-on flawless throughout. As Ginsberg, Daniel Radcliffe is superb and shows he is a huge talent. Forget Harry Potter; it's to his credit that, by his own admission, he deliberately refused to watch James Franco in the role in Howl so that his own performance wouldn't be influenced in any way. Jack Huston (nephew of both Angelica and Danny and currently on the London stage in Strangers on a Train) is compelling as Jack Kerouac, as is Dane DeHaan as the unpredictable and self-centred Lucien Carr. Then there is TV's Dexter, Michael C. Hall, who is wonderfully pathetic as David Kammerer, a brilliant lecturer obsessed with Carr.

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10
Kill Your Darlings is a powerful story of love and betrayal and a seriously impressive debut from Krokidas, who lays claim to being the latest in a group of new directors to make stunning first features - J. C. Chandor (Margin Call, All Is Lost), David Lowery (Ain't Them Bodies Saints) are two that come instantly to mind. If their debuts are anything to go by, they are a sign of bold, adventurous things to come. The cinematic Beat Poets, perhaps?

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Our member of the week

And I was in a sort of Harry Potter mood lately, looking for movies that had other actors of the series in them (mainly Michael Gambon Smilie). I even re-watched the black lady. Should watch that one as well as soon as i get the occasion, most likely when it goes on V.O.D. since my subscription gives me free access to loads of movies Smilie.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

I thought Radcliffe was great in The Woman in Black, so I'm intrigued by this. Rudy, have you seen the TV series, A Young Doctor's Notebook? That's had positive reviews as well, but I've not had chance to watch it yet.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
Our member of the week

The fact of the matter is I don't watch British TV a lot, cause if I did, I'd be the only one in the household to understand it XD, and all we've got are BBC1 through BBC4 and another BBC that I can't remember the name of, so unless it was aired on there, or the series has been dubbed in French and aired on this side of the North Sea, then I haven't had any way of being exposed to it yet Smilie.

Lately I've only been trying to watch Top Gear on BBC3 on week-ends for the Star in a reasonably priced car section cause I quite liked it after watching Michael Gambon's and Ruper Grint's interview and lap on youtube these days XD. So I quite enjoy tuning in to that on week-ends and see what's on there. The Graham Norton show as well as attracted my attention Smilie.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer

Haha, I used to like Graham Norton before he became more famous. Now he's far too over the top - over selling his camp nature!

Top Gear...hmm, not a fan of cars in general, so I've never seen the appeal of it.

I have to admit that I probably watch FAR more US TV than British, which is a shame as I think I'm missing out on greats like Doctor Who, Merlin, Sherlock, etc...

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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