Please note that this is a capsule review. Our full review is under embargo until the film hits theatres on October 18th, 2013.
Already premiering at Sundance to rave reviews, John Krokidas’ Kill Your Darlings is a steamy and sexy look into the formative years of the Beat Generation and several of the men who were at the heart of it. Led by a fearless Daniel Radcliffe and a mesmerizing Dane DeHaan, this vivid story is brought to life thanks to some stylistic and assured direction and excellent production values.
Following the enigmatic Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) and his time at Columbia with close friend Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), Kill Your Darlings tells the story of the beginnings of the Beat Generation, as Carr and Ginsberg befriend one another and along with several other rebellious writers like William Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston), form what they call The New Vision, which they hope will usher in a new age of creative freedom.
Kill Your Darlings springs to life in every frame with kinetic visuals, lots of verve and tons of personality. The film is also brimming with smart and crackling dialogue, impeccable production design and an absolutely perfect soundtrack, which surprisingly mixes in contemporary music with the more period appropriate stuff.
Admittedly, Kill Your Darlings does have a problem finding its identity at times, often switching its tone in a jarring manner, leaving us a bit confused and off balance. Still, it’s hard to deny the potent energy found here, which is due in great part to its rhythmic and spot-on editing.
Really though, the best part about this film is the performances. DeHaan is absolutely absorbing. Though still young and unproven, he shows the makings of a true star. You literally cannot take your eyes off of him when he’s on screen. His chemistry with Radcliffe is off the charts and feels incredibly authentic.
Speaking of the former boy wizard, he completely sheds his Harry Potter persona and jumps head first into the role, which has him engaging in drugs and sex quite frequently. He once again shows his range and embodies the famous poet quite well.
Though it can lose its sense of self at times, which does lead to a slight loss of cohesion, Kill Your Darlings is still an excellent look into the time period and quite possibly the best film yet to deal with the Beat Generation.