Kill Your Darlings Beats On

In a romantic nod to a decade past, Kill Your Darlings introduces some lesser-known gents of the Beat generation in a film already acclaimed by TIFF-goers.

Beat Goes On

Left to Right: Dane DeHaan as Lucien Carr and Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg.

A Revolution is in the Air—Kill Your Darlings (out Oct. 16) is the latest in an explosion of films celebrating the Beat poets, after Howl, On the Road and Big Sur. “The Beats are relevant with every generation because we don’t have counter-culture movements anymore,” star Daniel Radcliffe told FLARE when he was in Toronto for TIFF. “We all yearn for that in some ways, so it’s harking back to something we probably won’t have again that we miss.”

Radcliffe, 24, plays Allen Ginsberg, showing, he says, “a side of myself that I hadn’t before.” Sure, there’s a gay sex scene, but, says Radcliffe, “I don’t mean nudity. The range of characters I’m being offered is exciting and different.”

Kill Your Darlings adds some less-familiar names and events to the Beat milieu—Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan, above left), the movement’s magnetic muse; their one-time mentor, David Kammerer (Dexter’s Michael C. Hall); and the murder case that divided the group. It took first-time director John Krokidas over a decade to bring it to the screen, but the resulting film is throbbing with the urgency—and sense of play—of a micro-budget film shot handheld in three weeks. The actors were also given instructions to research their characters only up to the age they were during the time period covered in the film. Says Jack Huston, 30, who plays Jack Kerouac: “This is when all of these guys were young, untainted, hungry and ready for life.”

Hall, 42, had a lot less material to work with than the others, but was drawn to the challenge of “humanizing a guy who was characterized as a one-dimensional predator,” he says. “I thought of him as someone who fell in love with the wrong person and couldn’t let it go.” He offers a less nostalgic theory than Radcliffe’s about our current Beat fascination. He sees their rabble-rousing, in some ways, paying off in gay marriage and a less conformist society: “You can see the counter-culture, anti-puritanical, progressive philosophy of these guys coming to fruition, decades later.”