Kill Your Darlings is a well-acted, semi-interesting, peek-a-boo-style look into the early machinations, mischief and misdeeds of the literary Beat Poet geniuses Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac.
I say “semi-interesting” because some of the more graphic stuff I really could have done without – especially with my poor, sweet, innocent mom-in-law along for the ride. Little did she know – or I’m sure ever would have imagined in her wildest imaginings – that my little “writer’s group assignment” outing to the movies would be something she would “try to pretend” she never saw. I know she wanted to wash out her eyeballs.
After we dropped my friend off and we were alone in the car post movie, I tried to break the ice with “Well, that was … interesting.” Her response, an outburst: “Another one of my icons bit the dust – first Hannah Montana with all her twerking – and now Harry Potter!”
I tried, in vain, to point out that he (Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg) really did a pretty good job of acting – “he didn’t have a trace of a British accent,” I said. The look I got in response could have gotten its own Academy Award nomination. I would say this about it: she looked daggers at me.
The fact is, the storyline is not merely about the early creative spurt that ignited the Beat movement – although, to be sure, there are frenzied scenes of drug-fueled, manic typewriting, book pillaging and cut-ups-slashing fireworks and library hijinks aplenty. But the real story here is a love triangle gone bad. Way, way bad. And, since the love triangle involves three males, and since the three males were attracted (one obsessively so) to one another during another time when such things were mostly considered to be taboo, and, since the whole thing explodes on the screen – in many more ways than I was comfortable with, especially taking into consideration my movie buddy – in the heady, jazz infused and debauched sleazy New York City/Manhattan confines, and since it ends with a murky death for one and messy denouements for the rest – well, that made the way, way bad worse. Story-wise, I mean.
In the end, I was struck with a sort of curiosity about the “honor” killing defense bandied about in the film – was that really real? Did that really happen? My, how things have changed — and what does that say about the tentative realities we believe in today — here today, possibly gone tomorrow?
I wondered if the drugs and sex stuff was amped up (haha – one of the drugs they took was Benzedrine, they put ampules of it in their coffee – good morning!). I wondered how they all not only remained friends, but, according to the prolific publishing that history shows came later as they birthed the Beat Poet movement, but also fueled one another’s success, as if egging each, one after the other, to climb higher and higher.
And, I came away feeling dazed and yes, a little heartbroken.
Harry, we hardly knew ya. Another one bites the dust.