Some 10 minutes into Kill Your Darlings, one of the protagonists jumps onto the table of a stuffy college library and starts shouting profoundly about his nether regions.
Instead of quietly ignoring such attention-seeking behaviour, we are apparently supposed to applaud his courageous non-conformity.Kill Your Darlings – a look at Beat poet Allen Ginsberg’s college years, and the murder which haunted them – continues in this vein and fails most spectacularly because of the reverence it gives its main players.
Assuming its audience is aware and admiring of Ginsberg the poet, it never bothers to give his younger self – or his companions – any redeeming features.
Ginsberg’s tragic home life should endear him to the audience but Daniel Radcliffe’s portrayal never moves away from Potter-esque naivety and he spends most of the film gaping in awe at Dane Dehaan’s Lucien Carr (the aforementioned table-jumper).
It is hard to identify with someone of such ludicrously poor judgement. Radcliffe is overshadowed by rising star Dehaan, who does well to capture Carr’s charisma, but as the film trudges on the sight of his smirking face becomes more and more unbearable and the urge to slap it kicks in.
The initial failure to establish any likeable qualities in the characters means that when the story takes a more tragic turn, the audience doesn’t really care. Even the usually-excellent Elizabeth Olsen comes across as a bore, hands constantly on hips as she frowns at the antics of ‘the lads’.
Surprisingly for a film about Ginsberg, Carr and Jack Kerouac, Kill Your Darlings’ main flaw is not its pretentiousness, which is to be expected. It’s just bloody boring. 2/5