First of all - to enjoy this movie - you should have a slight interest in the Beat Generation. So if you haven't read anything from those crazy writers I highly recommend to read ‘On the Road’ and ‘Howl And Other Poems’ two of the Beat Generation classics before you see Kill Your Darlings. Not because one wouldn’t understand it - rather because it will make it easier to get some of the subtle groundbreaking ideas, that mark the beginning of one of the most influential western literacy groups.
Based around the true story of the murder of David Kammerer the movie shows the young, lost and aspiring writers Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliff), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) and William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster) challenging each other in the New York of the jazz age. Kill Your Darlings begins with the young Allen Ginsberg, who is admitted to Columbia University, where he wants to fulfill his dream of becoming a writer. Soon Ginsberg meets Lucien Carr and finds great pleasure in challenging the conservative rules of the university and the life that is expected from him. Ginsberg is brilliantly portrayed by Daniel Radcliff who manages to give the character the chance to oscillate between creative genius and lost, in love school boy by making him fall in love with the figure of Lucien Carr.
Sometimes the story line is missing a bit of depths but those moments are intercepted by all the great literature quotes the movie brings up. Yeats, Faulkner (to whom the ‘Kill Your Darlings’ title refers) Whitman or the aspiring authors themselves - they all get their literary moment in the movie. The chosen quotes are therefore essential for its success because they show the era of talent, for example Ginsbergs words about love, that mark the beginning of the movie, stick until the end: “Some things, once you've loved them, become yours forever./And if you try to let them go... /They only circle back and return to you./They become part of who you are or they destroy you“
The most beautiful thing in this movie are the interactions the writers have with each other. There is always a sense of groundbreaking friendship in the air that underlines the drives those young man have. With the knowledge of the later written pieces the aim of the young boys to change the world becomes explainable and even better understandable – they had no choice but to challenge and change the world with their words.
Every generation has its underestimated geniuses. Therefore it is kind of ironic that the end of the movie is marked by the great song “Don’t look back into the sun” by Pete Doherty and his former Band The Libertines. As Doherty sings “Don’t look back into the sun Now you know that the time is come – And they said it would never come for you“ it feels a bit weird, to hear that sung by one of the most underestimated artists of our time. In a way the end of Kill Your Darlings has a very positive connotation because looking back we can say that with the blooming 60’s and 70’s the time came for the boys of the Beat Generation and so it might even come for a Pete Doherty.