Was it a bad idea to make a film about the iconoclastic poet
Allen Ginsberg and his cohorts?
No. But it
was an idea that resulted in a mediocre movie.
Your Darlings” is, first of all, an unfortunate title.
It’s a title more appropriate for a slasher flick the
adolescent crowd would patronize at a midnight Saturday
screening, or a cable TV movie about a real-life mother who
inexplicably murders her offspring.
are a few clichŽs masquerading as characters: a
missing-in-action mom whose son can do no wrong (a part
undertaken here by Kyra Sedgwick); a long-suffering gal pal
who’ll stand by her meandering man no matter what (Elizabeth
Olsen); a pedantic professor who’s more in the know than he
seems to be; his colleague, an avuncular dean; and a
libido-led librarian, the type of lass one seems to encounter
only in movies.
too, the five main characters: Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe, who
starred in all eight “Harry Potter” films); Ginsberg’s
significant other, Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan); Lucien’s
former boyfriend, David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall); Jack
Kerouac (Jack Huston, grandson of director John); and William
Burroughs (Ben Foster). The problem here is that none of these
actuality-based young men comes across as a sympathetic
persona. The viewer is unaffected by one’s death,
another’s imprisonment and the quandary these events cause
in the life of a third.
portraying the big five are sufficiently skilled (although I
can’t resist the temptation to accuse Foster of doing a
movie-long Richard Masur imitation). However, the actors - and
writers John Krokidas (who also produced and directed) and
Austin Bunn - aren’t so skilled as to make the filmgoer care
about this collection of snotty, hedonistic scofflaws,
talented writers though these scofflaws may be.
of “Kill Your Darlings” suggests an alternative movie.
Still photographs of the stars appear onscreen with the
credits. Krokidas could’ve elected to use the stills for a
Ken Burns kind of documentary. The tale of America’s Beat
writers deserves to be told, after all, and telling it is a
fine idea (presuming last year’s Kerouac
book-based “On the Road” - which I did not see -
revealed just part of the story).
feature director Krokidas focuses on one aspect of the
Beats’ story - the murder mystery aspect. A murder mystery
should be “galvanizing,” which is the very adjective
“Kill Your Darlings” publicists have applied to Krokidas’
film. But this murder mystery is cluttered with fast-moving
mini-flashbacks and flash-forwards, with bits of comic relief
that go over (or, at least in the case of the small audience
the day I previewed it, went over) like a lead balloon and
with the presentation of Ginsberg and company as decidedly
sexual content (including male nudity), language, drug use and
brief violence, the film has been rated R.
publicists have characterized “Kill Your Darlings” as “a
picture of the nascent Beat Generation that we’ve never seen
before.” A much clearer and more detailed picture remains to
Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Michael C. Hall, Jack Huston,
Ben Foster, Kyra Sedgwick, Elizabeth Olsen
by: John Krokidas
time: 100 minutes