Heartbeat of a Generation – ★★★
Daniel Radcliffe seems as if he hasn’t got an ounce of cynicism in his bones which gives him the perfect temperament to play poet Allen Ginsberg. Alive to all the possibilities of life around him, he posses a childlike glee and innocence. Lacking the machismo of Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and the delightful hang dog misery of William Burroughs (Ben Foster) he is the perfect culprit to fall for the enticing charms of Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan).
Kill Your Darlings is the first feature length film from John Krokidas and concerns these men and how their meeting in New York city would lead to the formation of the Beat Generation and the death of one David Kammerer (Michael C.Hall). A young Ginsberg gets accepted to Columbia University and it is here that he first meets the enigmatic Lucien Carr, a Sebastian Flyte type character determined to upset the apple cart regardless of the consequences. He is a revelation to Ginsberg who is more accustomed to the quiet sitting room of his father’s house. In bringing him to a house party we meet Kammerer and soon see that he is still very much in love with Carr.
The complexities of the relationship between Carr and Kammerer slowly unfold making us realise all is not what it seems. The welcome addition of both Kerouac and Burroughs make the piece more than a tawdry love triangle picture. All the cast do a stellar job at attempting to capture these men before their seminal works “Howl”, “Naked Lunch” and “On The Road” would bring them fame and notoriety. The dialogue is hard to stomach at times as is all talk of new movements and casting off the shackles of conformity. Most college students have spent more than a night or two putting the world to right and the film doesn’t simply wallow in intellectual musings, focusing more so on the dynamics and power plays at work between the central characters.
More likely to cement whatever views you had about these writers, Kill Your Darlings is still a worthwhile endeavour. The film is an examination of a budding post-war society unsure of its old world values and a coming of age drama showing how the best minds of a generation began their journeys on the road.
Released in selected cinemas in Ireland on 6th of December 2013.