Kill Your Darlings – First Reviews

The first reviews of John Krokidas’ “Kill Your Darlings” (“Harry Potter” plays Allen Ginsberg) are in (and they’re pleasingly enthusiastic). Here’s David Rooney in The Hollywood Reporter – “This invigoratingly textured jazz riff – spliced with hallucinogenic interludes, introspective detours and moments of romantic reverie explores a formative period in Ginsberg’s life. He’s not quite the center of this story, but Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) provides its overriding point of view.” He goes on – “Krokidas and co-screenwriter Austin Bunn are less interested in the output than in the birth of the poet, at least where his first experience of love and disillusionment is concerned” – “Some things, once you’ve loved them, become yours forever” – Rooney quotes Allen from a voice-over at the beginning and end of the movie – “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.” – We’re tempted to go on, because Rooney, with a surprising sympathy (and not derailed by “other matters”), nails it – “That inexorable cycle, along with related aspects of Yeatsian philosophical reflection on the Great Wheel of life, death and rebirth, form a central motif. If that makes the film sound loftily academic, it’s not, though it is frustratingly opaque at times. But there’s a limber, freewheeling aspect to the storytelling that echoes the rule-breaking literary form of the Beat writers.”  Matt Patches for makes much the same point – “Kill Your Darlings” has a rare vision behind it, and it’s clear that Radcliffe and DeHaan (Dane DeHaan who plays, alongside Radcliffe, the Lucien Carr figure) are in on the plan. The ups and downs never miss a beat, nor do they feel stricken to the form that Hollywood would normally take to bring a story like this to life. This feels like a cue from Ginsberg himself – as we see in the film, the poet’s early days were filled with school lessons he threw to the wind (and flipped the bird to, naturally). His independent spirit runs through the veins of “..Darlings””.
The “very explicit sex scene”, “nude passionate and extremely graphic” (quoting Sharon Waxman in her review in The Wrap), alongside a (the) “stabbing scene”.. intercut (sic) with the sex scene and another scene of Burroughs and Kerouac taking intravenous drugs..” is bound to, disproportionately, take a good deal of critical attention. The Washington Post already sets the template with this headline – “Daniel Radcliffe Explores Daring Territory in Allen Ginsberg Biopic At Sundance” – “His young Ginsberg is initiated into booze and drugs, has oral sex performed on him in a library, makes out with one man and gets naked for sex with another..”  – “Mainstream media take-away from Kill Your Darlings – Harry Potter kisses the Chronicle guy“! – Alonso Duralde, in this early “Twitter” Round-Up, wittily makes the point.
Yes, we’ll have to sift through a through a little dross to get the nuggets, but we’ll be reporting further on “Kill Your Darlings” (and media response, and response to Allen) in the days ahead.


  1. Makes me even more excited to watch this film. The script is terrific and it looks like the performances did it justice.

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