Kill Your Darlings
Just over a year after Walter Salles’ On The Road gave us an awestruck glimpse into the Beat Generation, John Krokidas’ Kill Your Darlings seeks to flip that notion on its head – casting a more inquisitive eye toward the upstart rumblings of the movement; in particular, three of it’s founding members and their involvement in the murder of David Kammerer, a central figure on the scene.
How interesting you personally find the Beat Generation goes only so far as to covering how much you would actually enjoy Kill Your Darlings. While On the Road presented us with a fairly standard coming-of-age road-trip dynamic, Darlings instead serves more as a static character-driven drama; the exploration of the young psyche in a time of great mental unrest and a need to establish one’s own identity against the backdrop of post-War academia.
Instead, it’s how much you buy into the performances of the three leads that will ultimately determine how much you take away from the film, thankfully said trio (for the most part) fare rather well. Dane DeHaan is the MVP here, instilling his performance with an intensity and quiet rage Kevin Spacey made his name with in the mid-nineties – it’s a powerhouse performance, a real watershed moment in a career still relatively in its infancy (has it really only been eighteen months since Chronicle brought him to our attention?). Indeed, Ben Foster also delivers in spades – his William Burroughs simply drowns in ennui and melancholia, adrift in the liberal undercurrent that carries any sense of the actor behind the performance away with it.
Sadly, it’s Radcliffe who lets the side down. Carrying on unabashed in his quest to make us forget about that wizard, it’s yet another role that is simply beyond his range. Where The Woman In Black used a solid base and style to work in spite of Radcliffe, this character-centric drama simply can’t overcome him, making it plainly obvious (and according to some reports, a matter of record) that his casting is intrinsically tied to the film’s funding – a banner name to justify the offset for a film never intended to set the box office ablaze but to win awards instead. Sadly no one thought to warn Krokidas (who, as writer and director, does a fairly admirable job) that those award chances diminished the instant Radcliffe’s name appeared on screen.
Catch Van Connor’s reviews in our Movies section and live on Slam Dunk Cinema every Saturday at 12PM on Sheffield Live! 93.2FM or on the podcast via iTunes.
Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Ben Foster