Kill Your Darlings Blu-ray Review

A body has been pulled from the Hudson River.  In jail, a young would be writer currently attending Columbia University.  The year is 1944 and the beat generation is about to be born.

Allen Ginsberg (Radcliffe) wants to be a poet, just like his well known father, Louis (a very good David Cross).  When he is admitted into prestigious Columbia University his career seems to be on the right track.  At school he meets several other young writers who want to rebel against the conventional way of writing.  Calling their rebellion “the New Vision,” the men embark on careers that, 70 years later, still resonate in Literature today.

Kill Your Darlings

Detailing the early lives of such world renowned writers as Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and long time United Press International editor Lucien Carr (DeHann), KILL YOUR DARLINGS is a look at the pressures of college, and life, as undertaken by young men who are unaware of the greatness that lies ahead of them.  The film also looks at the unhealthy “friendship” between Carr and a former professor, David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall).  Kammerer is obsessed with Carr…so much to the point that he is writing all of Carr’s literary papers for school.  He is very defensive of Carr so when he starts bringing his new pal Allen around, the protective radar instantly go up.  The youngest of the group, Allen is content to hang out and listen to the many sounds that life is giving him, speeding things up with Benzedrine when needed and slowing them down with the occasional whiff of nitrous oxide.

Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan in Kill Your Darlings

The performances here are amazingly strong, with the actors bearing striking resemblances to their characters.  HARRY POTTER fans may not be ready to see Radcliffe in this role.  He has certainly outgrown the boy wizard and this is another very adult role in which he succeeds.  Radcliffe also bears a very close resemblance to the late rock and roller Buddy Holly here, so if there is a remake planned of THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY the producers should give him a call.  DeHann is also well cast.  He gives Lucien a strong outer shell but also shows the vulnerability inside him, most notably when his mother is called about a discipline problem and mentions “the incident in Chicago.”  And I’m very sure that one day he will appear in a David Bowie bio-pic.  Hall is almost a sympathetic character, such are the lengths he goes to keep Lucien close to him.  Supporting work by Jennifer Jason Leigh as Ginsberg’s mentally unstable mother and Elizabeth Olsen as Kerouac’s girlfriend (later to be wife) Edie Parker, who would also go on to write a memoir about her husband and start of the Beat generation.

Daniel Radcliffe and Dane Dehann in Kill Your Darlings

Director Krokidas, who also co-wrote the script with Austin Bunn, does a fine job keeping the story going in his feature film debut.  The script is tight, the performances spot on and the period detail well achieved.  Though “what happens next” is an important part of our literary history, KILL YOUR DARLINGS gives a great introduction to “what happened then.”


Video:  Presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, the disc has almost a grayness to the image as if watching the film on a cloudy day.  The detail is sharp and clear so my thought is that the pall on screen is to help set the mood.

Audio:  Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, the audio is clean and clear.  Not a lot of “outside” noises to overwhelm the dialogue.

Audio Commentary:  An outstanding extra, featuring director/co-writer John Krokidas, co-writer Austin Bunn and stars Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHann.  The four talk about everything that takes place on a film set in an engaging way.

In Conversation with Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHann (6:05):  A short Q&A with the two stars.

Q&A with Director/Co-writer John Krokidas and Co-writer Austin Bunn (1:05:40):  A very lengthy but informative discussion with the creators of the film.

On the Red Carpet at the Toronto Film Festival (7:29):  Shots of the actors and filmmakers attending the Toronto Film Festival.

Deleted Scenes (7:18):  Seven short scenes (many of them less than one minute in length) that really add nothing to the finished film.

Theatrical Trailer


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