The ‘mostly’ true story of the birth of the Beat Generation and the shady murder that nearly tore them apart. A young Allen Ginsberg goes to Columbia University in the mid-1940s, where he finds friendship, drugs and a way of thinking about writing that would profoundly influence his life.
‘Based on a true story’ – here we go again. I hate it, when you’re settling in for a film and that’s the first thing that you see. Because, really, who cares? Every day of my life is more or less based on a true story and it’s super boring. Which is not to say that this is a boring film (it’s not) but that’s probably because – much like the work of the writers it depicts – the ‘truth’ is never allowed to get in the way of a good story.
Kill your Darlings is the directorial debut for American John Krokidas and casts Daniel Radcliffe (everyone’s favourite teenaged wizard) as a young, pre-beard and Buddhism Allen Ginsberg – who goes to Columbia University to escape the shadow of his poet father and a mother struggling with mental illness. At Columbia he then meets the charismatic zeitgeist Lucien Carr (played by an excellent Dane De Haan) and they bond over a shared love of literature and abstract poetry.
I really respect Daniel Radcliffe, for two reasons. The first being that the bastard surely made enough money out of doing seven (or was it eight?) shitty films to never actually need to work again and yet, he still does. I also respect him because, lets be honest, he’s actually a really brave actor, who has managed to re imagine himself from a nerdy, facially scarred teenaged wizard into a more than marketable character actor in the finish traditions of other great, British actors.
While Radcliffe’s Ginsberg doesn’t always hold true, he certainly commits himself to the role and, as a result, delivers an honest performance of great note.
Throw a few other historically significant recreations of Beat era writers in the mix – a fairly spot on Mid-Western monotone William S. Burroughs, anyone? – an interesting soundtrack which nimbly juxtaposes 1940s jazz standards with modern day bands like Bloc Party and TV On The Radio and some fairly sumptious period costume and you’ve got a pretty good biopic on your hands.
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Michael C Hall. 103 mins / MA15+/ Out Now
GOOD FOR: Showing fans of Beat Generation writers how Ginsey got his ‘Howl”.
Three stars out of five.