WRITTEN BY: Austin Bunn, John Krokidas
DIRECTED BY: John Krokidas
STARRING: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Michael C. Hall, Ben Foster
RATING: 2.5 stars
The true story of a 1944 murder that affected some of the most famous Beat Generation writers is an amazing tale. Somehow, director and co-writer of Kill Your Darlings, John Krokidas, managed to turn the twisted and thought-provoking story into a long and boring film until the final half hour. It is a shame, especially considering how enduring the famed writers' works remain. Kill Your Darlings follows the unrelated films Howl (2010) and On the Road (2012), which also depict some of the main contributors of the Beat Generation. Unfortunately, despite a committed cast, Kill Your Darlings is not as strong as those films.
Long before Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and William Burroughs (Ben Foster) became household names, they were budding writers and poets pushing the boundaries at university and challenging life with their creativity, intellect and experimentation. Their mysterious and seemingly fearless friend Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) has a complicated relationship and dark history with David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall). When a murder is committed, the lives of all the characters changes forever.
Radcliffe carries the film and is very convincing as a young and mildly naive Ginsberg. DeHaan is equally impressive with his character's antics and provocative thrill-seeking. Foster is solid and Hall is as reliable as ever. Elizabeth Olsen has a small but pivotal role as Jack's girlfriend Edie, and Jennifer Jason Leigh is excellent as Ginsberg's mentally ill mother.
Kill Your Darlings should have been a far better film. It had a good cast and a dark and intriguing concept, but its slow pace and uninspiring storytelling ultimately failed to hit the mark.