DVD Review: Kill Your Darlings

Film poster for Kill Your Darlings.
Film poster for Kill Your Darlings.

The great shame in reviewing ‘Kill Your Darlings’ is the fact that had it been released in cinemas at a time of year where it wasn’t surrounded by blockbusters such as Hunger Games, Frozen and The Hobbit then it would have undoubtedly received a wider release and as such been reviewed more extensively sooner. As it is, this gem of a film, released on DVD in late April sat on my shelf for a further three months until I watched it, and immediately I regretted not watching it sooner.

The film’s plot, based on a true story from 1944, is seen through the eyes of Alan Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) who is settling into life at Columbia University where he meets the mysterious and charismatic Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) and in turn through him meets other writers Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and William Burroughs (Ben Foster). It is no major spoiler to say that the story revolves around the murder of Carr’s obsessed one-time lover, the older David Kammerer (Michael C Hall) with the film dealing with the events before, during and after.

In hindsight this is a potential reason not to sit down and watch this film – knowing this is about a murder is a reason why not to watch this film, however in many ways the film surpasses expectations. There is no brooding foreshadowing of the event around which this film is based, and whilst Radcliffe is almost totally outshone by DeHaan in many scenes, this is a film which could almost double as being part-biographical of a particular era of Ginsburg’s life.

To this end, there is no brooding foreshadowing of the events that dominate the film’s end, though the relationship between Ginsburg and Carr is clearly under consideration. The film’s beauty lies in the fact that it is so light hearted and fun, led by Carr’s unbounding energy as he leads Ginsburg astray. However there is a deliciously dark tone rippling gently beneath the surface. Carr for all his enthusiasm and efforts is a true tormented soul, and the experimentation that Ginsburg partakes in, partly motivated by his lust for Carr makes for gripping viewing as our own view on the reality of the film is challenged.

As the plot motors towards its inevitable conclusion, much consideration has duly been given to the murder of Kammerer. The viewer is left to their own conclusion. Seen through the eyes of Ginsburg we are left to believe that not even he, a close friend of Carr, knew what happened on that fateful night with his own reactions to Caar echoing the viewer’s frustrations at a clear conclusion. However for our own gratification the murder is played out several times in several ways in terms of flashbacks which may, at least appease our own frustrations at this lack of clarity.

With superb acting from the entire cast this is a truly ensemble piece and well worth a watch. At just over an hour and half this is a film that doesn’t require a lot of thought with the plot being fairly easy to follow and as such comes highly recommended!

Nutleyone rating: 7/10

Kill Your Darlings is available on DVD now, currently priced at £7 at www.amazon.co.uk