Kill Your Darlings

November 3, 2013 at 7:42 pm | Posted in 2013 | Leave a comment
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◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ½

I have quite a bit of luck with films lately.  I’ve seen so many good ones, I almost wonder if I’m going soft.  But saying a film was good is not quite the same as saying that I enjoyed it.  In fact, this one left me quite undone. The old tropes of first, unrequited love and the passions of youth have rarely felt as real for me as they have in this film. I’m not sure I can say why other than to say that I know this was a wholly subjective experience. That disclaimer aside, I was drawn in early on by the strength of the key performers.  Daniel Radcliffe does a fine job as Allen Ginsburg, producing a far better than expected American accent.  Radcliffe has proven himself fearless as an actor and absolutely determined to prove his mettle.  Here he shows how far he has come since his “Harry Potter” days.  But, the real strength of this film lay in Dane DeHaan’s performance. This little known actor came to my attention as the star of the very indie superhero flick, “Chronicle.” Since then he has had bit parts in various big films, though he will likely come to national attention with a major role in next summer’s Spider-Man movie. Here he plays Lucian Carr, the magnetic young man around whom everyone else orbits. This film could not have worked if DeHaan had not been convincing as the charismatic, troubled and sexually ambiguous Carr.  The sexual tension between him and Radcliffe is almost breathtaking at times and much of that energy is carried by DeHaan’s eyes, which can appear both evocative and insouciant at the same time. By all accounts, Carr was a brutal character to be friends with.  He drew stunning minds into his orbit (Ginsburg, William S Burroughs, Jack Kerouac) and introduced them to each other.  Though he contributed not a single piece of literature himself, his iconoclasm shaped the key minds of the Beat Generation. This film is the story of how Carr, who was arguably Ginsburg’s first love, made him the poet he became.  It’s sweet and touching and deeply melancholy.  But then, I guess, true love stories always are.

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