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“Kill Your Darlings” – Review (POSITIVE)

November 17, 2013

Screen shot 2013-11-17 at 2.13.09 PMThere’s a question many I’m sure have wondered, can Daniel Radcliffe hold his own in a post-Harry Potter world? While he didn’t bring the  chops that some would have expected in the Australian-drama “December Boys”, many, including myself thought all he was mean’t for was the wizarding world we’re familiar with. He did however bring a remarkable turn in the controversial stage play “Equus”, so there was a silver lining for the young actor.

After the final Potter film, what was next for the famed wizard actor? Well, he’s begun choosing roles that go outside the bounds of his typical casting, the upcoming horror-comedy “Horns” has fans of his in anticipation, but the one role that has a lot of us guessing is playing real-life American poet Allen Ginsberg in the well received 2013 Sundance Selected drama “Kill Your Darlings”“…Darlings” features a dynamic cast of actors portraying the original American ‘hipsters’ of this country, set at the beginning of Ginsberg’s (Radcliffe) early years at Columbia University, while focusing on a murder investigation involving Ginsberg, his classmate Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan), and fellow Beat author William Burroughs (Ben Foster).

The year is 1944. Allen Ginsberg is a young student at Columbia, when he falls hopelessly under the spell of charismatic classmate Lucien Carr. Alongside Carr, Ginsberg manages to strike up friendships with aspiring writers William Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) that would cast conformity to the halls of Columbia, and serve as the foundation of the Beat movement. Meanwhile, an older outsider named David Krammerer (Michael C. Hall) falls deeply and madly in love with Carr. Later, when Krammerer dies under grim circumstances, police arrest Kerouac, Burroughs, and Carr as potential suspects, paving the way for an investigation that would have a major impact on the lives of the three emerging artists.

The movie is based on a true story, yet the murder story is ambiguously left up to the audience for interpretation. We’re given only what Ginsberg could conjour from his own personal investigation regarding the possible slaying. Carr states that it’s a work of ‘fiction’, an interesting statement, which leads us down a stranger than fiction path. Is everything presented to us enough to give a complete judgement of ones character or even motive? Most of the time, I’m not a major fan of ambiguous endings, but with this film, the open ending leaves for greater [intellectual] discussions with the people you see the movie with. I know I did.

John Krokidas makes his feature directorial debut, and I must say, a film like this has some of the best editing, cinematography, and use of a cast I’ve seen, next to this weeks release of “Dallas Buyers Club”, who’d think it, two movies in one week, even the music is utilized creatively! There’s modernized music used in the film a few times, and when something like that is done in a period film it detaches itself from the viewer, Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette” is a prime example when it’s over-used giving us an over-saturated movie. But here, it works, because it matches with the ideals and personality of the characters. Without giving too much away, one of the best scenes in the movie has to be the ‘library heist’, the music and the pacing in the edits are fantastic.

The editing, some of the best I’ve seen this year, something I hope the academy recognizes. Last year I said that the heavily under-appreciated crime-thriller “Killing Them Softly” had some of the best editing of the year, and look at that Brian A. Kates cut both films, and here I am repeating myself on another movie he’s worked on. But, this is one mans opinion, agree or disagree with it, you cannot deny, once you see the film, that the editing style is extremely unique in it’s own right.

While the movie may tend to go in a different direction than what fans of the Beat movement or Ginsberg work were expecting, the films overall story itself is extremely captivating on the eyes and ears. Radcliffe and DeHaan have brilliant chemistry which should not be overlooked this awards season. Dehaan continues to prove he’s an actor everyone should be on the look out for, and Daniel is beginning to prove he has more to offer than saving the world from a dark wizard.

GRADE: A-

Special Thanks to Tana Velen for attending the screening and sharing her input.

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