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Film review: ‘Kill Your Darlings’

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Two and a half stars

Kill Your DarlingsDaniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, Michael C. Hall. Directed by John Krokidas. Rated R. Opens Friday.

Adding to the curious trend of biopics about famous people before they did the things for which they became famous, Kill Your Darlings looks at the college years of famed poet Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), as well as his fellow Beat writers Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster). Although Kerouac and Burroughs play supporting roles, the story here is really about the relationship between Ginsberg and his Columbia University classmate Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan), a sort of literary hanger-on who never achieved the greatness of the people with whom he associated.

The troubled Carr’s toxic relationship with former teacher David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall) forms the core of the movie, culminating in Carr’s murder of his friend and possible lover. Director and co-writer John Krokidas frames this event as a defining moment in the Beat movement, but despite his focus on Carr’s charisma and leadership, it’s never quite convincing. Darlings doesn’t really get past the awkwardness of signifying important historical events and personages, although DeHaan does effectively bring Carr to life (it helps that he’s the character with the least amount of cultural baggage). Onscreen titles at the end of the movie detail the future achievements of the main characters; maybe those would have made for a more engaging movie.

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