‘Four writers. One Love.’
Daniel Radcliffe has gone a long way trying to erase the mark on his forehead. From ‘Equus’ on London’s ‘Gielgud Theatre’, to ‘The Woman in Black’, passing through ‘Horns’ and why not ‘Kill your Darlings’. Four very harsh roles. A man with a sexual desire for horses; a lawyer fighting a ghost; a first degree murder suspect with horns on his head (he can’t catch a break) and a student writer discovering what he wants to be. It’s like his agent told him: ‘Go further or you’ll be Potter forever’. And you know… there are worst things to be.
PRODUCER: Killer Films
Kill your Darlings
Based on a true story, ‘Kill your Darlings’ is about elemental passions and the way they get convoluted. The forties weren’t an age where coming out of the closet was easy. It’s not like it is easy today. Seventy years ago was like saluting the falling blade with a sincere smile. The not yet famous poet Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) arrives at Columbia University full of joy and doubts. His already famous poet father (David Cross) is happy for him even when he is left alone with a mentally ill wife. Allen is very fond of his mother, and his own absence fills him with guilt.
That guilt is diluted when he comes across Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan), another student with rare manners, annoying rebelliousness, and a very attractive aspect. They become friends when they realize that poetry, like is being taught, is dying. Poetry in a system. Poetry with rules that appear stupid and beauty killers. Poetry that’s not poetry.
Lucien shows Allen a world of precious idleness surrounded by drugs and alcohol while they develop a manifesto with the aid of Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and William Burroughs (Ben Foster). A declaration of new poetry principles.
But there’s more of Lucien than what he lets them to know. A strange relationship with David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall), a professor that is obsessed with him, and, apparently, handles all his college papers.
Allen begins to follow the same path. And maybe, he is not alone.
Kill them all
The film tries to be two things: a rather faithful description of a real story, and an accurate portrayal of the origin of Beat Generation. The counterculture that exploded in the 60’s and change everything forever. It doesn’t fail in either task, but it doesn’t succeed with greatness.
John Krokidas, the director, made his debut with this film (over a screenplay of an also debutant Austin Bunn) and tried to create a mystery story that didn’t quite deliver through the edition department. This is history. And modern. We know what happened.
The four leading actors don’t make you believe they are smart or cool like they pretended. They look, well… dumb. DeHaan composes a hysterical snob that cracks through the movie. Krokidas wants you to hate him, while you feel sympathy for Kammerer, the character of Michael C. Hall, an over-jealous middle age man who’s so creepy that should belong to another movie. Kerouac, performed by Huston, is overacted. This is the macho-man. The ladies-man with a sailor cap and a thick accent who’s a dropout of Columbia. John Huston grandchild is not a bad actor, but he didn’t land a role fit for him. Ben Foster, as Burroughs, is lame. He has two good scenes on the movie. On the rest ones, he just stays there with a marble face.
And we get to our boy Radcliffe.
He has improved a lot as an actor, but perhaps he would feel more comfortable outside the spotlight. He needs to be supporting actor once in a while. Producers always want him for leading roles because they think that Harry Potter is going to accio more tickets. Maybe in 2012. Three years have passed and that’s not the deal anymore and they are throwing at him a lot of difficult leading parts. Ginsberg must have been a hard nut to crack, and yes, Radcliffe has improved… but he is no De Niro at his twenties. At least not yet.
The movie is filled with a mixed score, courtesy of Vince Giordano’s Orchestra (the ones who compose the original score of ‘Boardwalk Empire’) and composers of that era like Slim Gaillard and Roger-Roger. It’s nothing more than what you expect. There’s also a bunch of classical compositions.
The art department did their job trying to recreate the general feel of the era, bordered by the tanks of war. A counterculture is usually born in the heat of the bullets, and Beat Generation is not the exception.
Reed Morano (director of the impressive ‘Meadowland’) focuses the lights on the scenery with a vintage palette that seems actually modern, trying to coordinate two generations struggling.
Overall, is an interesting film about a couple of months that have made intense influence on the culture of the last century and today, but it’s not that much entertaining.