Published: 31/12/2013 12:18 - Updated: 31/12/2013 12:35

No easy ride for Radcliffe

Written byFilm review

Daniel Radcliffe plays Allen Ginsberg in the movie
Daniel Radcliffe plays Allen Ginsberg in the movie

Kill Your Darlings

**

Is there life beyond Harry Potter for Daniel Radcliffe?

And is it possible to make an engaging film about the Beat generation that will stand the test of time – and make sense to a new generation only vaguely aware of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg et al?

Yes.

And maybe – but it’s not this film.

The blurb: in 1944, poet and English teacher David Kammerer was found floating in the Hudson River.

A friend of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, his murder was a crime that scandalized New York and helped define one of the twentieth century’s key artistic movements.

This based-on-a-true story of friendship, love and murder aims to recount  the pivotal year that formed the Beat generation and started the counter revolution.

The murder mystery launch pad carries the seeds of a good film about literary characters whose stream-of-consciousness burblings might otherwise be difficult to bring to life convincingly on the big screen.

Daniel Radcliffe, cast as Allen Ginsberg, isn’t given an easy ride. First, there’s the American accent to master (he does a decent job.) And then, there are the round glasses to wear. For an actor trying to get away from you know who, that makes the challenge just that wee bit trickier. To be fair, Radcliffe does the best he can with what director and co-writer John Krokidas hands him.

The truth of the matter is that it’s difficult to empathise with any of the characters who variously come across as spoilt brats/ pretentious nitwit,s as opposed to deep, tortured souls with important things to say. And when you don’t really care that much about any of the central characters, the attention initially grabbed by an opening murder scene starts to wane very quickly.

Jack Huston (Jack Kerouac) and Dane DeHaan (Lucien Carr) come over as particularly shallow, self-obsessed and one dimensional. Ben Foster’s droll take on  William Burroughs is more likeable while Radcliffe in the starring role is given some depth with a bit of back story about Ginsberg’s difficult family life.

The film rather loses its focus halfway through, leaving the viewer wondering what it is they’re supposed to care about.

Kill Your Darlings is being screened at Eden Court until January 2.

Reviewed by Hector Mackenzie

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