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Movie review: Bold 'Kill Your Darlings' shows Beat poets in early days

Published November 21, 2013 6:30 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

With a talented and brave cast, a fearless director, gorgeous cinematography and detailed period production design, the drama "Kill Your Darlings" neatly captures an intriguing moment in literary history.

It's 1944, and the future icons of the Beat Generation — Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), William Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) — meet in New York, where Ginsberg is a sexually naive freshman at Columbia, drawn into the orbit of the charismatic Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan), who wants to fight educational conformity to create a new literary movement called "The New Vision." But Lucien is mercurial in his relationships, as evidenced by his handling of Ginsberg and of David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall), an erudite ex-professor who has followed Lucien from Chicago.

Director John Krokidas (co-writing with Austin Bunn) tells the tale with great care and affection, but stumbles slightly by assuming we know enough about these poets-to-be that we'll fill in the gaps of their character development.

The cast is top-notch, with Radcliffe making Ginsberg grow up before our eyes and Foster capturing Burroughs' innate weirdness.

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'Kill Your Darlings'

Opens Friday, Nov. 22, at the Broadway Centre Cinemas; rated R for sexual content, language, drug use and brief violence; 104 minutes.