Blu-ray Review: ‘Kill Your Darlings’ Explores Allen Ginsberg’s Well Spent Youth

Kill Your Darlings (Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan)Now out on Blu-ray and DVD,  “Kill Your Darlings” (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 103 minutes) focuses on Allen Ginsberg’s (Daniel Radcliffe) close bond with fellow Columbia student Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan). Carr’s innate charisma enables him to start a new literary movement among his peers, which include William Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Jack Kerouac (“Boardwalk Empire’s” Jack Huston). Michael C. Hall is David Kammerer, a man who becomes jealous of Carr’s newfound friendship with Ginsberg.

The picture, a labor of love from writer/director John Krokidas, is not a by the numbers retelling of how the Beat Generation’s most famous scribes changed the world. Instead, the narrative focuses on Ginsberg’s attempts to challenge his own belief systems, even if it changes his own approach to his vocation. Whether it’s questioning a professor in class by defending Walt Whitman, or even discovering Carr’s fickle approach to writing, Ginsberg’s decision to sacrifice a few of his own “darlings” will eventually give his own words a deeper level of resonance.

Even on a miniscule budget, Krokidas manages to evoke the spirit of a 1940s New Y0rk while also delving into the complicated friendship between Ginsberg and Carr. With Kammerer’s killing at the hands of Carr“Kill Your Darlings” could also have creatively drowned as a one-dimensional, somber tragedy.

Though Kammerer’s death is indeed pivotal to the friends’ eventual parting of ways, “Kill Your Darlings” mainly explores the themes that its moniker suggests. If one must push forth and progress, an individual must leave a few cherished loved ones behind.

Kill Your Darlings (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Kill Your Darlings (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

Special features on the Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack include:

  • “On the Red Carpet at the Toronto Film Festival”
  • Commentary with Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan, John Krokidas and Austin Burns (co-writer)
  • “In Conversation with Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan” (this is a six minute talk during a screening of the film, with a moderator conducting the chat)
  • Q&A with Director/Co-writer John Krokidas and Austin Burns
  • Deleted Scenes

The deleted scenes are a total must if you’re a fan of “Kill Your Darlings,” since it gives more screen time to Jack Kerouac and his first wife Edie Parker (Elizabeth Olsen). There is also a congenial goodbye sequence between Kerouac and Ginsberg which is also worth checking out. Ginsberg’s homophobic roommate Luke (Zach Appelman), an understandable afterthought in the theatrical cut, is given two scenes in the movie. The sequences deal with Luke’s discovery of Ginsberg’s sexuality and his eventual bullying of his roommate.

During the press conference for “Kill Your Darlings,” Daniel Radcliffe talked about the joy of doing acting improvisation during the production of the film. It was a first for the actor, and click on the bar below to hear Radcliffe discuss the experience:

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