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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

May 30, 2021



‘KILL YOUR DARLINGS’ is set in New York City in 1944 as World War II is going on with real life characters who become famous writers: 

Allen Ginsberg (one of the most awarded American poets who hit it big in the 60s until his death in 1997), William Burroughs (best known for his novel “Naked Lunch”) and Jack Kerouac (best known for his book based on his travels “On the Road”).

They are known as members of the then so called Beat Generation. They all meet as college students in Columbia University, along with Lucien Carr who later becomes an editor of the United Press International. 

The film is told from the point of view of Allen Ginsberg, played by Daniel Radcliffe who was then still doing the last of the Harry Potter franchise.

Allen has a poet father (David Cross) and a mentally unstable mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who is so clingy to him. 

He leaves them when he gets accepted at Columbia University in New York, where he meets Lucien (Dane DeHaan), a problematic young man who is in a tumultuous relationship with an older man, David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall, the serial killer “Dexter” in an offbeat role.)

Lucien relies on David to do all his required term papers for him. Allen also meets William Burroughs (Ben Foster), a young man from the wealthy Burroughs family who is into drugs, and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston, and they do look alike), who’s with the U.S. Navy and is intent on traveling. 

They form the literary movement called New Vision that rebels against the establishment.

Allen is gay and soon harbors secrets feelings for Lucien, who in turn, dumps David and then asks Allen to write his terms papers for him. 

But David proves to be obsessed with Lucien, openly declaring his love for the young man. He continues to stalk Lucien, who then decides to join the marines with Jack. 

In his final confrontation with David whose advances he continues to ward off, Lucien gets violent, stabbing David with the knife he carries repeatedly. 

He is arrested and Allen, who is now open about his feeling for Lucien, visits him in jail. In an epilogue, the film tells what happens to the four major characters.

The film would be of more interest to you if you have read the works of the characters in it. 

Although treated as a murder-mystery, it shows an enlightening chapter in the story of the pioneers of the Beat Generation, considered as the first true literary counter culture in America in the last century. 

This footnote in their history about a forgotten crime is brought to life on screen with competent performances and an evocative period production design. 

Director John Krokidas presents a tale of homosexual jealousy, attraction and obsession that ends in murder and engulfs the characters in the early stages of their careers. 

Daniel Radcliffe junks the wholesomeness of Harry Potter for his gay role with daring kissing scenes with Dane DeHaan. 

He gives an engaging performance of the sexually naive young Jewish boy and Ivy League undergrad who later becomes a literary titan. 

The film shows how his earlier experiences in Columbia initiated the poetic impulse in him, starting with a messy situation that he artistically controlled with the piece he wrote about his experiences with Lucien, “The Night in Question”.

But it’s Dane DeHaan who gives a smoldering performance as the troubled Lucien. He has made quite an impact since he played Green Goblin in “Amazing Spiderman 2”. 

Writers proclaimed him to be a great find comparable to the likes of Johnny Depp and even James Dean in playing troubled young men. 

But he didn’t really fulfill his promise as he made some bad choices doing crappy films like “A Cure for Wellness”, “Tulip Fever” and the trashy sci-fi flop “Valerian & the City of a Thousand Planets”. 

In “Kill Your Darlings”, he nearly steals the film as he captures the complexity of a sensitive Lucien who teaches Allen how to drink, smoke cigarettes and marijuana, and introduces him to jazz, social and sexual awakening.