Friday, June 20, 2014

Critical Darling

Despite my typical dislike of biopics, I decided to take a chance on last year's Kill Your Darlings. Though specifically a story about poet Allen Ginsberg in his critical freshman year of college, the film appeared to be in equal measure a story about the emergence of the Beat Generation, and featured enough interesting actors to capture my attention.

Daniel Radcliffe stars as Ginsberg, heavily influenced by a Lucien Carr, played by Dane DeHaan (of The Amazing Spider-Man 2). The cast also includes Ben Foster, Michael C. Hall, Elizabeth Olsen, Jennifer Jason Leigh, David Cross (in a rare dramatic role), and Kyra Sedwick. It's a "deep bench" to draw from, and they definitely throw themselves into creating a rich and realistic environment.

But the story is lacking. The first half meanders almost aimlessly, too much a "slice of life," and a celebration of rebellion in general without a specific message. (Maybe that's the Beat Generation ina nutshell?) Too late in the game, a story materializes surrounding a murder. Suddenly there are deeper questions about gay rights and personal integrity. Should one bow to pressure in an academic setting? Is it right to sell out your principles when the pressure gets high and the stakes get personal? It's far more interesting material, to be sure, but by this point, the film had already lost me.

The performances are solid throughout, but I found little else to recommend about the film. I'd give it a D.

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