Vintage knitwear porn for those lads and lasses who’ve been hankering to see Harry Potter’s first onscreen bout of gay sex, Kill Your Darlings puts a slick YA sheen on Allen Ginsberg’s Columbia days. Not content to trace the origins of the “New Vision” young Ginsy (Daniel Radcliffe) co-conceived with fellow dreamboat student Lucien Carr (young-DiCaprio doppelgänger Dane Dehaan), first-time director John Krokidas turns to Carr’s killing of former lover David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall) for a neat but pointless structural line upon which to drape his film.
That the story is more or less true doesn’t excuse the speculative-cum-exploitative treatment it gets here; a more apt title might have been A Beat Murder Mystery. Nor does the premise’s debt to history account for the baffling music cues—from TV on the Radio to (worse) Bloc Party—used to jolt it out of the musty 1940s and into the present. For his part, Radcliffe channels Larry Gopnik at his mildest with a certain ease, but as in the Potter movies, he’s directed to blend into the background while more colourful players like Dehaan get to fatten their resumes. (Ben Foster gets partial credit for playing William S. Burroughs as Ryan Gosling’s Driver.) As with a lot of weak movies about writers, this one relies on hyper-cranked montages of coiffed artistes clacking away at typewriters and throwing pages in the air while hoofing their drugs of choice. It’s all blustery manifesto, no poetry—just like Carr, an honorary Beat without a text to his name.
Canada, Daniel Radcliffe, Kill Your Darlings, TIFF 2013