Kill Your Darlings is set in 1944 where Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) is a freshman at Columbia University. He there falls under the spell of the charismatic Lucien Carr (Dane Dehaan), who takes him on a whirlwind ride to a life of poetry, sex, drugs and violence. After a series of bohemian escapades, the mysterious murder of paedophilic professor David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall), brings together the trio- Allen Ginsberg, William S Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston), who would soon become legends of the Beat Generation.
Allen was indeed in Wonderland when he started to spend time with Lucien Carr. They set out to destroy the old and build the new in a time of declining moral standards. From Allen’s vantage point, there was an inescapable poetic quality to the chaotic world around him. They were a group of young adults bonded by their slapdash attitude towards life; living in the moment until they were tired of running from tomorrow. They hardly ever sat down to write, but when they did, even a court deposition would feel like literature.
Daniel Radcliffe renders the most endearing version of Ginsberg in his innocent and studious attire and glasses that runs the risk of reminding everyone of Harry Potter. He watches in wonder as his eccentric friends lead us through the post World War II anti-establishment madness. We get to peep into the genesis of the counter-culture movement with Burroughs, the nifty dresser with a porn addiction (among his many other addictions) and Kerouac, living with his girlfriend who he cheats on without feeling any remorse. However, the story primarily revolves around Carr, who later parts with the group for good. This directorial debut of John Krokidas received critical acclaim, but was not a box office success just like the other recent beat generation films, namely On The Road (2012) and Howl (2010).
Of the few that protested the film’s historical inaccuracies, Caleb Carr, son of Lucien Carr, described it as “a tired, ludicrous reading of the story of the murder case... based almost entirely on Allen Ginsberg’s versions of events. And Allen had an awful lot of reasons for revising the facts to suit a narrative that served his ego and his agenda far more effectively than it did the truth.” As is the natural of historical accounts, we may never know the truth about what happened in those mystery-shroud Columbia dorms except that they spurred the most influential generation of poets in America.