Kill Your Darlings DVD Review
By Jordan Smith.
Whilst The Woman in Black was an entertaining enough horror film, Daniel Radcliffe’s performance in it wasn’t all that special and it certainly wasn’t particularly different from his role as Harry Potter. Thank goodness then that I can finally see him as someone that isn’t Harry Potter in Kill Your Darlings. Released into cinemas last year, this biographical drama film was one of the many films that could have had a shot at the awards season given its genre and release in the middle of the Oscar Bait season. However it was not to be and I’ve only now had the chance to watch the film as it was released onto DVD and Blu-ray last month.
The film is the debut feature directed by John Krokidas and he does an excellent job considering it’s his first major film starring some pretty big name actors. Dane DeHaan is the other main actor in the film and he plays his role fantastically opposite Radcliffe and reminds us once again why his career is taking off like a shot. Jack Huston, Ben Foster, Michael C. Hall and Elizabeth Oslen round off the supporting cast.
The film centres on Allen Ginsberg (Radcliffe) and William S. Burroughs (DeHaan) and their relationship as the story told focuses on the origins of the “Beat Generation” in the 1940s. Ginsberg comes from a home where his caring but troubled poetry loving father has to look after his mentally ill wife. Ginsberg’s mother has already been in and out of hospital due to her unstable mind. After winning a place at Columbia University, Ginsberg goes there to study creative writing. He’s an inexperienced freshman who ends up meeting the brash and “anti-establishment” oriented Burroughs. Naturally Ginsberg is swept off his feet by Burroughs but complications occur when he discovers that Burroughs has only managed to keep his place at Columbia due to David Kammerer, a teacher with whom Burroughs had a past relationship with, continuously doing his work for him.
Mostly this film focuses on how these people all try to create new and original forms of writing that upset the established order and the seeming manipulating nature that Burroughs has. He uses people for his own gains continuously throughout the film and it’s made clear that he has a lot of issues and so treats people pretty horribly. All of the drama centres on how he affects people with his actions and words.
The acting in this film is superb and it’s the first decent period drama that I’ve seen for a while, though I admit I don’t really go looking for decent period dramas to watch so that could be why. Daniel Radcliffe finally breaks free of his type casting as the boy who lived and gives a pretty damn good performance as Ginsberg. His accent is pretty spot on as far as I can tell and he’s portraying a very different character from anyone I’ve seen him play before which helps distance him further from Harry Potter. Dane DeHaan has been fantastic since appearing in Chronicle a couple of years ago and he gives another great performance here; certainly the better of the two performances that I’ve seen him give in recent months. Burroughs must have been a very troubled man and DeHaan gives a layered performance showcasing this; though since he started off in a similar role in Chronicle, it doesn’t surprise me that he does “troubled young man” quite well.
The directing is stylish and interesting, the opening sequence for the film certainly grabs your attention and if you’re a fan of poetry or writing you’ll enjoy all the quotations and such that are scattered throughout the film I imagine.
A fine film but nothing particularly special; the cast do give great performances however and I look forward to whatever Radcliffe and DeHaan are doing next. John Krokidas is also a fine director but he doesn’t strike me as anything too special yet. I’d recommend buying this film if you want to see what Radcliffe’s been up to and you can’t get enough of Dane DeHaan’s acting abilities.