Kill Your Darlings promised a fascinating look into Allen Ginsberg, Lucien Carr, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs’ formative years at Columbia University, leading up to the notorious 1944 murder of supposed Carr-stalker David Kammerer. What I got was a remarkably bland performance by Daniel Radcliffe and a subpar script that didn’t do the Beat movement justice.
For a film centered around a group driven by spontaneous innovation, it felt formulaic at times (tired hallucinogenic scenes don’t equal creative or edgy in my book). The tragic part is that there is a deeply interesting story here, but first-time feature director John Krokidas just couldn’t get to the heart of it. The best part of the film was emerging actor Dane DeHaan’s performance in the role of Lucien Carr, but even that sometimes felt like an imitation of Ryan Phillippe ala Cruel Intentions. This film failed to inspire me, but I hope that doesn’t deter another director from taking on the Beat Generation again soon in a more substantial manner.
Kill Your Darlings debuts at TIFF tonight at Roy Thompson Hall at 6:30, and screens again on Wednesday September 11 at the VISA Screening Room (Elgin) at 2:30pm.
Sabrina Maddeaux is Toronto Standard’s managing editor. Follow her on Twitter at @sabrinamaddeaux.