Kill Your Darlings (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

March 8, 2014 by  


Featuring a wonderful performance by Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan, “Kill Your Darlings” is a stylish, dark and entertaining film about the Beat Generation worth checking out!

Images courtesy of © 2013 KYD Film LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Kill Your Darlings


DURATION: 103 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:40:1 aspect ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Czech, Polish VO 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: R (For Sexual Content, Language, Drug Use and Brief Violence)

Release Date: March 18, 2014

Directed by John Krokidas

Written by Austin Bunn and John Krokidas

Produced by Michael Benaroya, Rose Ganguzza, John Krokidas, Christine Vachon

Co-Producer as Rose Ganguzza, James Lejsek, Sierra Nielsen, Missy Papageorge

Associate Producer: Matthew Vose Campbell, David Hinojosa

Executive Producer as Jared Goldman, Joe Jenckes, Randy Manis

Music by Nico Muhly

Cinematography by Reed Morano

Edited by Brian A. Kates

Casting by Lauren Rosenthal

Production Design by Stephen H. Carter

Art Direction by Alexios Chrysikos

Set Decoration by Sarah E. McMillan

Costume Design by Christopher Peterson


Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg

Dane Dehaan as Lucien Carr

Michael C. Hall as David Kammerer

Jack Huston as Jack Kerouac

Ben Foster as William Burroughs

David Cross as Louis Ginsberg

Jennifer Jason Leigh as Naomi Ginsberg

Elizabeth Olsen as Edie Parker

When Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) is accepted at Columbia, he finds stuffy tradition clashing with daringly modern ideas and attitudes – embodied by Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan). Lucien is an object of fascination for shy, unsophisticated Allen, and soon he is drawn into Lucien’s hard-drinking, jazz-clubbing circle of friends, including William Burroughs (Ben Foster) and David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall), who clearly resents Allen’s position as Lucien’s new sidekick. A true story of friendship, love and murder, Kill Your Darlings recounts the pivotal year that changed Allen Ginsberg’s life forever and provided the spark for him to start his creative revolution.

For filmmaker John Krokidas and writer Austin Bunn, both men would be inspired by the work of those who are from the Beat Generation which included famous poet, Alan Ginsberg.

As closet gay young men at the time, the work of Allan Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac were inspirational for both men and the true story that revolved around the Beat Generation’s Lucien Carr and the murder of David Kammerer, a former English teacher who was obsessed with Lucian and stalked him wherever he went.

Wanting to focus on the introduction of the Beat Generation and the murder of David Kammerer, years of trying to craft the film, “Kill Your Darlings” was created.

The biographical drama film would star Daniel Radcliffe (“Harry Potter” films), Dane DeHaan (“Lincoln”, “Chronicle”, “Lawless”), Michael C. Hall (“Paycheck”, “Six Feet Under”), “Dexter”), Jack Huston (“American Hustle”, “Outlander”), Ben Foster (“3:10 to Yuma”, “Pandorum”), David Cross (“Eternal Sunshine”, “Arrested Development”), Jennifer Jason Leigh (“Fast Times at Ridgemont High”, “The Machinist”) and Elizabeth Olsen (“Oldboy”, “Martha Marcy May Marlene”).

And “Kill Your Darlings” would go on to receive positive reviews from film critics.  And now the film will be released on Blu-ray+DVD from Sony Pictures Classics.

“Kill Your Darlings” is a film that is set in the early 1940’s and revolves around Allen Ginsberg (portrayed by Daniel Radcliffe), son of writer Louis Ginsberg who is from a troubled home and is trying to get a fresh start in life at his college.

But when he comes across a fellow intellectual named Lucien Carr (portrayed by Dane DeHaan), he is introduced to other writers such as Jack Kerouac (portrayed by Jack Huston) and William Burroughs (portrayed by Ben Foster), and these writers would be known as the Beat Generation, a group of writers that were non-traditional and controversial for their time.  Challenging their professors but also challenging each other, these friends, they inspired each other to push themselves outside of boundaries to experience and experiment.

And as Ginsberg and Carr begin to form a close friendship which would inspire Ginsberg to become a writer, Carr would have to deal with a stalker named David Kammerer, which would one day lead to a murder that would eventually shatter the Beat Generation.


“Kill Your Darlings” is presented in 2:40:1 aspect ratio and in 1080p High Definition.  The film manages to have this 1950’s look, with the choice of colors that is more cooler and less vibrant.  Closeups of the characters show amazing detail and for the most part, manages to look like a film that was set in the ’40s.  I did not notice any artifacts or banding issues during my viewing of the film.


“Kill Your Darlings” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and Greek and Polish VD 5.1 Dolby Digital.  The film is primarily dialogue and musically driven, which both are crystal clear through the center and front channels.  Some scenes with crowds or parties utilize the surround channels for ambiance, but for the most part, the film is center and front-channel driven.

Subtitles are in English.


“Kill Your Darlings” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary from director John Krokidas, actors Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHaan and writer Austin Bunn.
  • Q&A with John Krokidas and Austin Bunn – (1:05:39) An informative Q&A with John Krokidas and Austin Bunn.
  • In Conversation with Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan – (6:05) Jenelle Riley interviews Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan.
  • On the Red Carpet at the Toronto Film Festival – (7:30) Director John Krokidas, writer Austin Bunn and the cast arriving to the red carpet.
  • Deleted Scenes – (7:26) Featuring seven deleted scenes.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:05) Theatrical trailer for “Kill Your Darlings”.


I know many friends who are influenced by certain groups of the past.  May it be the Cahiers du Cinema writers in France during the French Nouvelle, the early creatives of Weimar-era Berlin, the creatives of Urban Bohemia of early Greenwich Village, to name a few.

But for writers, there are those who are influenced by the Beat Generation, American post-World War II writers of the 1950’s.  The prominent names affiliated with the Beat Generation are Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burrough and Jack Kerouac.

But unlike other groups that were well-respected and loved, the Beat Generation also had their dark years that revolved around a murder involving a an important friend of those in the Beat Generation, Lucien Carr, a man who would be known for his work as an editor at United Press International but in the past, a man known for introducing Ginsberg, Burrough and Kerouac to one another.

I’ve always been fascinated by this story because these young men were wild, free but yet intellectuals, how were these young men involved in something so dark?

And this is where I found myself looking forward to John Krokidas and Austin Bunn’s film “Kill Your Darlings”.  A film that may be highlighted for Daniel Radcliffe’s acting post-Harry Potter, but for me, it was a film that showcased the Beat Generation, in its minimal glory, it’s defiance and sexuality but also the brutality of the murder of stalker, David Krammerer.

What I enjoyed about the film is how it brought out its ensemble cast and not solely focusing on one certain member.  Allen Ginsberg and Louis Carr are the primary talents of the film but the four major players of the Beat Generation are featured.

The portrayal of Radcliffe’s Allen Ginsberg was a young man from a troubled home who found solace with the members of the Beat Generation.  A young man raised by a father who was a writer but was a literary rebel.  But the film was able to take Radcliffe and use his talent as a thespian, which he has honed in theater and also in other films, trying to break out of the Harry Potter stigma and become Allen Ginsberg, a man trying to discover himself, while being closeted in his sexuality during the 1950’s.

For Ben Foster’s portrayal of postmodernist author William S. Burrough, the portrayal was a man who was born of wealth but also a man who would engage in narcotics which would play a big part in Burrough’s successful work, “Naked Lunch”. It’s important to note that Lucien Carr was not the other black mark on the Beat Generation as William S. Burrough was also convicted for the murder of his common-law wife, Joan Vollmer (both Burrough and Volmer were drunk and she was killed accidentally during a game of “William Tell), the most prominent female member of the Beat Generation.

Jack Huston’s portrayal of novelist and poet Jack Kerouac, a close friend of Lucien Carr and his relationship with Edie Parker (portrayed by Elizabeth Olson) was featured in the film.  Kerouac who is known for his literary work, was also imprisoned for his role in assisting Lucien Carr in the murder.

But if there was one person who was quite notable for his role in the film was Dane DeHaan’s portrayl of Lucien Carr.  An exceptional student, an intellectual who is seen befriending Allen Ginsberg and introducing him to the other Beat Generation members.    The writing and portrayal of Lucien Carr by writer Austin Bunn was fantastic. In one scene, we see Lucien Carr and Allen Ginsberg going to a party in which a woman kisses Carr.  When Ginsberg asks Carr if he knew the woman, Carr tells Ginsberg “No, I don’t plan to.  She tasted in imported sophistication of domestic cigarettes”.

But the film would showcase the friendship and the romantic/sexual relationship between Lucien Carr and Allen Ginsberg (note: Which I have never seen any factual information the two did have a sexual relationship but it is known that Ginsberg was attracted to Carr).

As the film shows Carr’s intelligence, it also shows is weakness and that is his relation to David Kammerer.

While the film showcases Kammerer as a man respected amongst his peers, but a man jealous of Carr’s association with Ginsberg.  But in reality, life for Carr was problematic since the age of 14.  Kammerer who was a family friend of William S. Burrough, became infatuated with Lucien Carr.  So badly that each school that Lucien Carr would move to, Kammerer would follow.

It was probably one of the high-profiled cases of stalking leading to murder in American history but also a murder compounded in conservative America of a story of an obsessed homosexual man trying to go after a young heterosexual man, which was used in Carr’s self-defense.

But “Kill Your Darlings” is a film that managed to do a fine job of showcasing these four individuals, the life they lived during that time but also creating a story with factual elements but also a story with fictional elements regarding the friendship and relationship between Allen Ginsberg and Lucien Carr.

The acting for the film is well-done, the production design and music for the film was well-done.  But what I enjoyed about the film is the writing and how both John Krokidas and Austin Bunn were able to bring out their characters for this smart and enjoyable film.

As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is very good but it’s not a film that will be seen for being vibrant.  Picture quality is very good, especially during the closeups, lossless audio is primarily dialogue driven but dialogue and music is crystal clear. Special features are also insightful, from the audio commentary but also a Q&A between director John Krokidas and writer Austin Bunn that really goes into the making of the film, but also the challenges they faced.  And how Krokidas was about to quit his filmmaking career because of the challenges he faced until “Kill Your Darlings” became a reality and was made to a feature film.

There  have been a dozen of films about the Beat Generation, and while not completely factual, “Kill Your Darlings” is no doubt one of the better films to depict all four members.  Granted, cineaste will no doubt want to check out David Cronenberg’s 1991 film “Naked Lunch” (based on William S. Burrough’s 1959 novel) and others may enjoy the 2012 adventure film “On the Road” (an adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s 1957 novel) directed by Walter Salles. And also the 2012 experimental film “Howl” (which explores Allen Ginsberg’s well-known poem “Howl”) directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman.

Featuring a wonderful performance by Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan, “Kill Your Darlings” is a stylish, dark and entertaining film about the Beat Generation worth checking out!

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