Kill Your Darlings: What You Need To Know
An intriguing real-life story of murder, obsession and unrequited love, Kill Your Darlings, released on Blu-Ray and DVD in the UK next week, recounts the true story of a bizarre incident in the lives of some of the pioneering poets that formed the Beat Generation. Here’s everything you need to know…
Who’s in it?
A feature-length directorial debut from John Krokidas, Kill Your Darlings centres around the college years of four of the Beat Generation’s most prominent talents and features an impressive cast list: Daniel Radcliffe stars as Allen Ginsberg, Dane DeHaan takes the role of Lucien Carr, Jack Huston plays a young Jack Kerouac while the role of the legendary William S. Burroughs is performed by Ben Scott. Dexter’s Michael C. Hall also co-stars as David Kammerer, while there are also appearances from Jennifer Jason Leigh, Elizabeth Olsen and Arrested Development's David Cross.
What’s the plot?
Set in the early 1940s, we find the young Ginsberg majoring in English at New York’s Columbia University, where he soon begins to find the institution’s rigid teaching methods and views tiresome and frustrating. He quickly gravitates towards similarly like-minded iconoclasts like Kerouac, Burroughs and particularly Lucien Carr. Ginsberg learns that Carr has managed to stay at the university by getting someone else to write his term papers for him. The someone in question is David Kammerer, a much older man and a teacher who, Ginsberg suspects, is a former lover of the young and charismatic Carr.
Ginsberg is attracted to Carr and, finding the arrangement a little creepy, offers to write Carr’s papers instead, allowing Carr to ditch Kammerer, who he is using to make his way through graduation. This causes an angry confrontation between Carr and Kammerer and when it turns physical Carr ends up stabbing Kammerer in self-defence with a boy scout knife. Carr is placed on trial for his murder and a reluctant Ginsberg agrees to help by writing his deposition, but in doing so he uncovers evidence about Kammerer’s past.
Does it deliver?
Despite the fact that this is Krokidas’ first stint in the director’s chair, he handles the story with some skill and care, managing not to get in the way of an intriguing narrative made all the more fascinating because of the characters involved. The performances are accomplished and wholly believable, particularly those from DeHaan and Hall, while Radcliffe is no slouch either in the role of the young Ginsberg.
The film’s modest showing at the box office shouldn’t detract from what is a well-acted and skilfully executed film, and we suspect this may become a title that grows its audience in the home cinema market. If you’re a fan of the beat poet scene and enjoy the work of writers like Burroughs and Kerouac then you’ll enjoy it even more.
Kill Your Darlings will be available in hmv stores from Monday April 21st. You can pre-order it from your local hmv