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Sundance Review Roundup: 'Kill Your Darlings'

Thompson on Hollywood By Anne Thompson and Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood January 22, 2013 at 5:09PM

Critics are praising John Krokidas' "Kill Your Darlings," starring Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg. The film, which is edgier and more engaging than Walter Salles' faithfully literary "On the Road," is being called an unusually successful portrait of the Beat generation, "a genuine attempt to source the beginning of America's first true literary counterculture."
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"Kill Your Darlings"
Sony Pictures Classics "Kill Your Darlings"

Critics are praising John Krokidas' "Kill Your Darlings," starring Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg. The film, which is edgier and more engaging than Walter Salles' faithfully literary "On the Road," is being called an unusually successful portrait of the Beat generation, "a genuine attempt to source the beginning of America's first true literary counterculture."

Sundance buyers are circling cautiously as they do not want to overpay, even if they believe the film is more commercial than disappointing "On the Road," which was hurt by intense year-end competition.

Below, review snippets and highlights from Radcliffe's recent interview with Esquire.

From Esquire interview:

Radcliffe on playing Ginsberg:

"Someone asked me if it was intimidating to play the Beats, and it is intimidating, but it’s not daunting if you stop thinking of them as the Beats, and think of them as people going on a very universal journey of self-discovery and joy and then responsibility. You need to experience both to find out who you are. When you’re seventeen to early twenties, that’s the time you’re trying to work out who you are. If you’re trying to make some kind of artistic or creative impact, that’s the age when you start to figure out how to do that."

On wanting to direct:

"Leaving Potter, working on new things -- more than anything what it’s confirmed is how much I want to direct. I want to write, too, but that’s what I know now I didn’t know five years ago… I think Sundance is probably the most likely option [for venue]. My taste in the films I’ve taken as an actor is similar to what I’d do a director or writer: all quite odd, challenging stuff, slightly off-the-wall."

The Guardian:

Films about the Beat generation are all too often made for kudos by well-meaning but not so well-read dilettantes who simply want to advertise their often misguided interest in the this now-infamous bohemian group of writers. "Kill Your Darlings," though, is the real deal, a genuine attempt to source the beginning of America's first true literary counterculture of the 20th century. It doesn't resemble Paul Thomas Anderson's film in style but an alternative title could easily be "There Will Be Blood," since it is about the way fate can be determined in the crucible of violence, via a little-known but, in its own intimate way, galvanising moment in modern, but now fast-fading, literary history.

The Hollywood Reporter:

“Kill Your Darlings” succeeds more than most in capturing the first flickers of the literary movement without hipster self-consciousness. More specifically, this invigoratingly textured jazz riff -- spliced with hallucinogenic interludes, introspective detours and moments of romantic reverie -- explores a formative period in Ginsberg’s life. He’s not quite the center of this story, but Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) provides its overriding point of view.

HitFix:

The most impressive and noteworthy aspects of "Darlings" is Kodikas' stylish cinematic eye and his collaboration with cinematographer Reed Morano… The film is also Kodikas' feature directorial debut and he takes advantage of his opportunity making some bold choices in a repetitive rewinding footage motif and mixing period and contemporary music.  He also manages to distinctively avoid cliche's staging his character's drug induced writing binges which is no easy feat.  The main troupe of Radcliffe, DeHaan, Hall and Foster are strong (Hall gives the best turn of the four), but it's the secondary players including a terrific Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kyra Sedgwick and David Cross that provide the gravity for Kodikas' rich canvas.

This article is related to: Reviews, Sundance Film Festival, Daniel Radcliffe, Kill Your Darlings, Festivals, Festivals, Reviews


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.