Film Review: Kill Your Darlings

Plot: The year is 1944 and Allen Ginsberg is starting his journey towards becoming one of the greatest poets of the time. But the path to success is not an easy one and Allen must discover who he truly is if he is to succeed.

His new friends – including Lucien Carr, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs – encourage him towards a literary revolution, but that isn’t the biggest change in Allen’s life. He must discover himself, including his sexual orientation and deal with the consequences of falling for the wrong person. Even if that path eventually leads towards murder and crime.




Quote: `Another lover hits the universe. The circle is broken. But with death comes rebirth. And like all lovers and sad people, I am a poet.`


Opinion: I first saw Kill Your Darlings at a press release just before the film was released. I unfortunately did not get the chance to write up the review in time, which is a shame because it was accompanied by a question and answer session with Daniel Radcliffe (Allen Ginsberg). I thought, considering I always planned to review this film, I would give it another go.

The plot is not a straight-forward, linear one. It is about revolution and love: about acceptance and belonging: about being something more than what the universe dictates. While it is full of big ideas and big names – the best poets at the time – the plot dragged and the film felt incredibly long. It didn’t hold my interest that well.

The characters were complex, but so much of the film involved them hallucinating, it is hard to see how they develop and react to the events surrounding them. Despite learning how to follow his heart, Ginsberg ends up right back where he started, albeit it with more of an appreciation of poetry. Being based on a true story limits the potential, but the characters could have been more.

While the acting was good enough to make the characters work, I don’t think any particular performance was strong enough to really pack an emotional punch. Dane DeHaan (Lucien Carr) was the strongest, managing to portray a tormented young man who struggled with life. When his ex-lover (David Kammere played by Michael C. Hall) first shows up at the apartment, DeHaan folds in on himself and it is one of the most powerful visuals in the film about his confliction. Not the rants, the drugs or the drinking, but his internal dilemma.

The film is circular, starting at the end and ending at the start, a visual representation of the revolution and the sayings that the poets were living by. The clever metaphors, however, do not distract from the way the film feels like it drags.

I’m glad to have seen Kill Your Darlings in a setting where I could appreciate it more than a packed cinema. For me, however, the film is an effort to get through and feels like it missed a spark. A film to only watch once.

Amazon | HMV


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