Next time somebody tells you that they created a free-verse poem, run far, far away from them!
In 1944, a young, aspiring poet named Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) goes away to college in New York and finds himself in a bit of a rut. Not only is he secretly gay and not able to fit in with the rest of the macho crowd that goes out to bars every night, get drunk and hope to land in some gals bed. That’s not Allen’s style, but you know what is his style? Running along with the young, free and wild souls of the college, which is why non-conformist Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) interests him so much, for many more reasons other than just sexual. Yes, there is that idea, but since Ginsberg isn’t totally out of the closet and Carr is with an older man (Michael C. Hall), it never quite materializes to anything more than just a curiosity. However, their relationship becomes something more very serious once Carr begins to lose his cool, and does something that will affect Ginsberg, and the rest of the group of poets around him for the rest of their poem-versing lives.
Seeing as that I’m not a huge fan of the Beat Generation, I do have to say that the story of a friend of these famous writers who was involved with a murder that practically happened around them, did sort of interest me, even if I knew what I was going to get with this movie most of the time. That meant that there was going to be lots of partying, smoking, drinking, sexxing, and spontaneous writing and shouting of ideas that seem to mean more then what they actually are. So yeah, as you can see, I wasn’t too fond of the subject material going in and worst of all, I just didn’t care all that much to begin with.
But somehow, this movie interested me because it was less about the Beat Generation and how they wrote, and more or less the idea of growing up in a world where you practically live underground, away from all of the hustle and bustle of the mainstream. See, probably the most interesting aspect behind this movie is that the movie never tells you right off the bat who Allen Ginsberg is, so if you were a person who didn’t know much about him beforehand, then throughout the movie, you’d get to know just exactly who he was, what he did and why he mattered to the rest of society and the arts. We see Ginsberg as a young writer, who aspires to be like his famous daddy, but you also see him as a kid that wants more out of this life, which makes it easy for us to understand why he falls so hard for Lucien in many more ways than one.
This approach to the story made it seem pretty neat because rather than basically showing us a sign of things to come for people like Ginsberg, or Jack Kerouac, or William Burroughs, the movie just focuses on their lives and who they were at that point in time. Obviously not much changed as time the future years went by, bu to get this small snippet in the lives of these guys, all before they began to be beloved by any college kid who smoked too much weed and had too much time on their hand, and seemingly, take the art world by storm. And yes, this is all coming from a guy who is typically not interested in learning anymore about these figures than I already do know, which is why I was all the more surprised leaving the theater, feeling as if I wanted to actually read more of these guys’ poems.
Shocking, I know. Let’s just hope that none of my football teammates are reading this right now.
However, what’s strange about this movie is that the very same thing I don’t like the actual people in this story for, the movie actually does do and it was probably the only times I really felt myself terribly uncomfortable and annoyed with it. Once the movie starts to show all of these young writers getting together, acting as if they are the coolest things since sliced bread and practically know everything about the Earth they live on from the tectonic plates, to the ocean currents, then I felt like I wanted to beat the hell out of them. They were just up their own asses, and I get that most young guys their age, especially around that time, probably acted the same way; but that still doesn’t mean I want to watch a film about all of that, especially when there’s so much more interesting stuff going on around it like, say, the Lucien Carr story itself.
The fact that Lucien Carr is actually a real person and got away with such a heinous act, really still surprises me even when I think about it. You’d think that Lucien Carr would have just been a character inside these poets’ minds that they created in order to get past some sort of writer’s wall, but nope: Real dude, real problems, real murder. That’s why when you watch Dane DeHaan and see how charismatic he is as Carr, you’re ultimately surprised by what the hell drove this guy to do something so bad in the first place. We get the reasons why he decided to murder a person, but it still shocked me since he seemed like a bright kid, albeit, one with some anger issues. That said, DeHaan is great in this role and continues to show us why he is one of the most interesting, young talents we got working in the biz today. Let’s hope it stays that way.
And to be honest, Daniel Radcliffe ain’t too shabby either, playing a younger-version of one Allen Ginsberg. It would seem like a real hard obstacle for somebody as famous and as recognizable as Radcliffe to get past in playing an even more famous, more recognizable figure in American culture, but the dude gets over that problem right off the bat and you begin to share a sympathy with this cat as you know he’s just a poor, little sheepdog just sucking this whole new world in. However, he’s not the only famous face, playing a fellow famous face, Ben Foster and Jack Huston get their chances to live and shine as William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac respectively, and both do very well, giving us more personality behind the figure-heads, while also showing us the paths they would eventually take after this tragedy occurs around them. Everybody else in this wide cast do great jobs as well, even if David Cross playing Allen Ginsberg’s dad did seem like a bit of stretch; but a stretch I was willing to let pass since he wore his glasses. Without them, it would have been too distracting to say the least.
Consensus: You don’t have to be an obsessed and dedicated fan to the generation that Kill Your Darlings is glamorizing, but it definitely will help more since a lot of this concerns them, just being the people you read about them being in any book, poem or article you may or may not read. Either way, it’s an interesting slice-of-life in some very interesting lives, that would only continue on to get more and more interesting as they lived on.
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!