Love awakens a writer, while his love interest seeks to destroy and push away, everything he has.
Review (with Spoilers)
I should probably note, right off the bat, you mention any of the names in the film besides Allen Ginsberg and I will say “who?” And I note this because it seems very much like the type of film fans of not just Daniel Radcliffe, Michael C. Hall, and others may get into, but also those who have fallen in love with the authors, and those who inspired their work. I would honestly argue, though, the one who comes out best in the film is Dane DeHaan, for reasons listed below.
Characters & Story
A college-bound Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) we meet as a mousy, awkward, but slightly confidant young man thanks to his father’s work being prominent. But, as the film goes on, he finds himself becoming one of the rebel voices at Columbia University. Especially upon the acquaintance of Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan). Lucien, in more ways than one, is a charmer. Someone capable of capturing the attention of anyone in the room, and anyone lucky enough to get reciprocity of their attention seemingly loses their minds.
Take David (Michael C. Hall) for example. His love for Lucien, commonly known as Lu, seems insatiable. And though he seems like a creepy stalker at first, Ginsberg is soon to learn how addicting Lu can be to the point of becoming almost obsessed himself. Unfortunately for him, though, Lu is deeply troubled and seems willing, and able, to drag people just as much into a stupor, as he can into his despair. But with so many talented minds surrounding him, and each one a legend in the making, a story is told about love, lust, drugs, and murder which will undoubtedly make for good watching.
And the reason why is because, even if you are as unfamiliar with everyone as I am, the story within itself is well done. You could easily write this off, if it was pure fiction, as a great coming of age romance story, with the only difference between what we usually see and what this film is being that Ginsburg doesn’t meet a girl who changes his life, but a young man, being Lucien. With their bromance, though sort of love story, we see what seems to be your usual little bud blossom, and watching this film really helps me see Radcliffe as more than Harry Potter, and really makes it so that it is simply a role he did and not the total of his existence/ talents.
As for everyone else, DeHaan as Lucien embodied an almost seductive style which easily could make even a straight man curious. Take a young Leonardo DiCaprio and combine him with the vampire Lestat then you have DeHaan as Lucien. He is vibrant, charming, a bit of a deviant, but difficult to take your eyes off of. And with both Hall and Jack Kerouac, as Jack Huston, showing how addictive his company can be, even if perhaps in a platonic way in terms of Jack, it is hard to argue that while Radcliffe may have the recognizable name, DeHaan does steal some of his thunder.
In all honesty, the only criticism that I can even come up with is a rather weak one. Which is that if you aren’t a big fan of old white authors and their literature, a lot of the works that Lucien, Ginsberg, David, and the others mention may go over your head. And considering how these men, as well as Ben Foster as William S. Burroughs, speak in such a manner which is very sophisticated, the dialog can sometimes come off as a bit pretentious. But considering that maybe what these people are, perhaps it is just fitting?
Overall: Worth Seeing
I feel it is becoming increasingly rare for me to find a movie I genuinely like. Perhaps the quantity of films I have seen has now affected how I see quality, but in terms of Kill Your Darlings, I do feel this one stands a bit above the rest. For with a compelling story, featuring literature’s greats; dynamic and enrapturing performances, of which help command your attention to the point of wanting to follow their careers; and with hardly any weaknesses overall, it is rather hard to say this is anything but worth seeing.