Monday, March 31, 2014

Now at Netflix: Kill Your Darlings (2013)



Kill Your Darlings (2013) - Directed by John Krokidas; Written by Austin Bunn and Krokidas; Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Michael C. Hall, Jack Huston, Ben Foster, David Cross, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Elizabeth Olsen.

By Kenny Howell

I've written several times, it's hard to make a good movie about the Beat Generation because filmmakers can't get over their adoration for them.

Nearly every movie that involves the Beat Generation, and there has been quite a few lately, is filled with endless weirdos spouting off poetry, acting all crazy, reminding you repeatedly that they are the Beat Generation.

But these were real people. Weird people, I understand, but not the kind of over the top caricatures that have been represented.

That is part of what Kill Your Darlings gets right. For the most part, especially Daniel Radcliffe and Jack Huston, this movie is played straight. They talk about their love of poetry and do plenty of drugs, but this is a movie about young men getting themselves into a mess that ends in murder.

It is based on a true story, obviously. Radcliffe plays Allen Ginsberg who is in his freshman year at Columbia. He meets Lucien Carr (DeHaan), William S. Burroughs (Foster) and Jack Kerouac (Huston), and they form a friendship based on their modern views of poetry and art in general.

But Carr's relationship with David Kammerer (Hall) has started to become trouble for the group. I guess the rest of this little recap could be considered a spoiler alert, though people familiar with the Beat Generation know what happens. If you don't want to know what happens, skip past this paragraph. Kammerer had basically stalked Carr since he was in his mid teens, following him from school to school. He was also friends with Burroughs. When Kammerer gets out of control, Carr murders him, and the rest have to figure out how to survive it, and move forward with their art.

Of the four, two play their characters fairly straight, and two go over the top. It kind of works because it fits to their strengths. Radcliffe plays Ginsberg as a nervous kid gaining his confidence and experimenting with life. Huston plays Kerouac as kind of slick guy trying to escape his responsibilities. DeHaan and Foster go for broke, but their characters call for it. DeHaan had issues with depression, and was at his wits end with Kammerer. Burroughs was Burroughs, which basically means insane.

The movie isn't as much about their art, as it is four young men trying to get themselves out of bad situation so they can reach that place. That's what I like about it, and even though it isn't perfect, it's an interesting look at the men before they became legends.

Kill Your Darlings is currently at Netflix and Redbox in DVD and Blu Ray.

Rating: ***

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