Kill Your Darlings

For innovation, outrageousness and passion, few movements can beat the Beats.
And Hollywood has been an enthusiastic cheering section ever since. Lately, a trio of movies has focused on Beat poet Allen Ginsberg. Kill Your Darlings is the latest and the most compelling. It centers on a youthful Ginsberg finding his nascent artistic voice.

Director John Krokidas gets the Beats. This multi-faceted tale — part murder mystery, part coming-of-age story, part intellectual disquisition of a socio-literary movement — is well-shot, assuredly directed and sharply written.

Set against the backdrop of World War II, the film features Ginsberg (nimbly played by Daniel Radcliffe) as a rapturous Columbia University freshman yearning to write inventive poetry free from the strictures of literary classicism. In equal measure it focuses on Ginsberg as he explores his burgeoning sexuality, longing to be swept up in a grand passion and eager to transcend the limitations of a homophobic society.

As much as it's about Ginsberg's artistic and emotional growth, the story chronicles a dark chapter in which Ginsberg's close friend Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) is implicated in a gruesome murder.

Despite his lack of physical resemblance to the poet, Radcliffe's confident portrayal is notable for its vitality and range. He superbly conveys Ginsberg's sensitive nature and tortured sexuality. DeHaan smolders with seductive charm as Carr, the charismatic rebel who introduces Ginsberg to subversive artistic expression, wild parties, drugs and sex.

Though he's inexorably drawn to Carr, Ginsberg's story is as much about casting off the shackles of his middle-class upbringing as it is about sexual awakening. No straightforward biopic, the ambitious Kill Your Darlings never shies from complicated matters, letting creativity vie with emotional upheaval, and exposing the contradictions and complex facets of human attraction.

- Claudia Puig, USA Today


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