Metascore
65

Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 36
  2. Negative: 2 out of 36
  1. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Oct 15, 2013
    90
    Mr. Krokidas deftly shows how the ambition to write is entangled with other impulses.
  2. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Oct 31, 2013
    88
    In this tale of longing, loss and regret, it isn’t always possible to know who’s deluding oneself, or someone else. But then, it isn’t always possible to know that in real life either.
  3. Reviewed by: Jordan Hoffman
    Sep 6, 2013
    87
    It transcends the usual biopic limitations to tell a specific story about some well-known people with larger, universal implications.
  4. Reviewed by: Kevin Harley
    Dec 9, 2013
    80
    Sex, drugs, murder, radical verse and Radcliffe make persuasive bedfellows in Krokidas’ live-wire lit-pic. It gets busy, but fizzy direction and Rad’s rigour help to keep its pulse alive.
  5. Reviewed by: Damon Wise
    Dec 2, 2013
    80
    A vibrant, insightful film about writers and writing, featuring Daniel Radcliffe’s best post-Potter performance.
  6. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Oct 18, 2013
    80
    They flail and they thrash, and Krokidas' film is just like them — as jazz-inflected and freewheeling as the Beat poetry these guys were about to unleash on the world.
  7. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Oct 17, 2013
    80
    Brash, bristling, highly watchable film.
  8. Reviewed by: Damon Wise
    Sep 6, 2013
    80
    Though it begins as a murder-mystery, Kill Your Darlings may be best described as an intellectual moral maze, a story perfectly of its time and yet one that still resonates today.
  9. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Nov 20, 2013
    78
    The film’s love for its subjects is mirrored in their passionate frenzy for words, and language – spoken, written, body – in general. Above all, and what sets it apart from other cinematic takes on the Beatified, is how much fun it is. It may end in tears, but then, don’t all great love stories?
  10. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Nov 21, 2013
    75
    At the center of the film lies a moral question, not a literary one: Should Ginsberg abandon the potentially visionary Carr when he turns out to be a liar, an exploiter and an emotional traitor? Should he, in fact, “kill his darling” when Carr commits a heinous act and asks Ginsberg to lie for him?
  11. Reviewed by: Connie Ogle
    Nov 14, 2013
    75
    Kill Your Darlings is more coming-of-age story than murder mystery, but its characters are so well drawn and complex the emotional weight carries a suspense all its own.
  12. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Nov 8, 2013
    75
    Kill Your Darlings is a tale of inspiration, then, but also a tale of jealousy, obsession, homophobia, and homicide. It's a whirlwind. Even if it doesn't all hang together, it's worth the ride.
  13. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Oct 31, 2013
    75
    That Ginsberg is played by Daniel Radcliffe might come as a shock, but the shock wears off as the movie rolls on and you realize you’re in very good hands.
  14. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Oct 17, 2013
    75
    Far more coherent than last year's aimless "On the Road" and more sharply focused than 2010's "Howl," it centers on a youthful Ginsberg finding his nascent artistic voice.
  15. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Oct 17, 2013
    75
    It's almost enough to make you wish that Kokidas and co-writer Austin Bunn had fictionalized the story. But then again, a beardless Ginsberg isn't really Ginsberg at all, which gives Radcliffe all the room to play around with the character that he needs. It might be best spell yet.
  16. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Oct 17, 2013
    75
    It’s much more lively than “On the Road,” last year’s snoozy adaptation of the Kerouac novel that presented fictionalized versions of some of the same characters.
  17. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Oct 17, 2013
    75
    Sex, lies, betrayal and murder set among the gods of the Beat Generation. That's Kill Your Darlings, a dark beauty of a film that gets inside your head and stays there.
  18. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Nov 8, 2013
    70
    You wouldn’t want Kill Your Darlings to be the only information you ever get about the Beats. But it’s a decent introduction for the uninitiated, and interesting enough to those who know the story.
  19. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    Sep 6, 2013
    70
    There’s a limber, freewheeling aspect to the storytelling that echoes the rule-breaking literary form of the Beat writers.
  20. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Sep 6, 2013
    70
    Directed with an assured sense of style that pushes against the narrow confines of its admittedly fascinating story, John Krokidas’ first feature feels adventurous yet somewhat hemmed-in.
  21. Reviewed by: A.A. Dowd
    Oct 16, 2013
    67
    The saving grace of Kill Your Darlings is its sordid romantic angle, a narrative thread that pulls the film away from wink-wink allusions and into more serious emotional territory.
  22. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Oct 17, 2013
    60
    As for Ginsberg himself: Should we be more impressed that Radcliffe so confidently portrays an actual icon, or that he banishes all memories of the fictional one he’s portrayed before? Both accomplishments suggest that he’s got real talent, and a future that’s already taking him well past Harry Potter.
  23. Reviewed by: Sam Adams
    Oct 16, 2013
    60
    Unfortunately, Kill Your Darlings doesn’t know what to do with Radcliffe and DeHaan, good as they are; there’s little sense of how they fit into a larger framework, or what bearing, if any, it might have on its more famous subjects’ later output.
  24. Reviewed by: Robbie Collin
    Sep 6, 2013
    60
    Unlike Walter Salles’s recent adaptation of On The Road, which embraced the Beat philosophy with a wide and credulous grin, Kill Your Darlings is inquisitive about the movement’s worth, and the genius of its characters is never assumed.
  25. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Oct 25, 2013
    58
    Director and co-writer John Krokidas doesn’t have a very fluent gift for period re-creation – everything seems stagy – and most of the actors, playing divas of various stripes, overact.
  26. Reviewed by: Rodrigo Perez
    Sep 6, 2013
    58
    Well shot and well made, Kill Your Darlings is a very competently constructed effort on a whole, but there’s an emptiness and familiarity at its core that it cannot transcend.
  27. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Oct 31, 2013
    50
    Despite its general intelligence and worthy performances, Kill Your Darlings makes it difficult to see how the Beats ever caught on.
  28. Reviewed by: Bilge Ebiri
    Oct 17, 2013
    50
    Kill Your Darlings wants to be a young man’s movie, but it’s all “cinema du papa,” as the French New Wave used to call it. The philosophical disconnect is downright cosmic.
  29. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Oct 16, 2013
    50
    Something is missing here, like a clear perspective.
  30. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Oct 16, 2013
    50
    Far too conventional underneath all the trappings, you wish it would howl.
  31. Reviewed by: Bill Weber
    Sep 11, 2013
    50
    An overmatched star and a scarcity of eccentricity sink this hip-lit origin story from director John Krokidas.
  32. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Nov 22, 2013
    40
    Along the way, Krokidas' story becomes a touch schizophrenic, at times a coming-of-age story, a love story, a crime drama and a literary drama. It's hard to say which it functions as best, as none are given too much time to germinate before Krokidas moves on to the next.
  33. Reviewed by: Michael Atkinson
    Oct 15, 2013
    40
    Kill Your Darlings is an undernourished and over-emphatic film.
  34. Reviewed by: Eric Hynes
    Oct 15, 2013
    40
    There’s a heart here, but with all the superficial noise, it’s hard to hear it beating.
  35. Reviewed by: Geoff Pevere
    Nov 7, 2013
    38
    It adds nothing to our understanding of "Howl," and the movie is exactly what the poem isn’t: ordinary.
  36. Reviewed by: Christy Lemire
    Oct 18, 2013
    38
    Kill Your Darlings presents a minor prelude to a major literary movement.
User Score
6.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 20 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 0 out of 5
  1. Oct 17, 2013
    6
    At the very least, Kill Your Darlings is a fairly ingenious idea for a movie. Taking a little-known murder case in the early lives of Ivy League undergrads Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, and Jack Kerouac and using it to frame a tale of creative, sexual, and social awakening, John Krokidas’s film has ideas and ambition to spare. What could have easily become a Muppet Babies for the Beat set turns out to be, at least at first, a touching look at the intermingling of adolescent and literary passion in a world on edge. Somewhere in its conception, though, lie the seeds of its (partial) downfall. The film follows young, talented Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), a frustrated teen from Paterson, New Jersey, as he enters his freshman year at Columbia. There, he becomes captivated by Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan), a charismatic bon vivant who likes to get up on tables and recite Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer from memory at the top of his lungs. “Lu,” as he’s called, introduces Ginsberg to wealthy Harvard scion and nonstop drug-experimenter Burroughs (Ben Foster, introduced in a bathtub clutching a mask feeding him nitrous oxide), as well as hunky, talented senior Kerouac (Jack Huston). Together, the four of them begin to breathlessly explore the creation of a new creative movement, to be called the New Vision, which will rejuvenate American literature and tear down the stuffy, hidebound morality and culture all around them. The nation might think it’s fighting fascism abroad, but these guys are convinced the real fascists are here at home, hiding in the ironclad poetic rules of meter and rhyme, and in the sexual mores governing society. “Let’s make the patients come out and play,” they proclaim. “We need new words, new rhythms!” What’s that you ask? Oh, right, the murder. While all this is happening, there’s also an older gentleman by the name of David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall), who expresses a bit too much fondness for Lu. For all his sophistication, the man is clearly obsessed, pathetically, with this beautiful young boy. He also appears to have given Lu some of his bolder ideas, so the notion of said ideas now being shared with the likes of Ginsberg and Kerouac (all of whom Kammerer sees as potential romantic rivals) clearly drives him nuts. The film opens with Lu dropping Kammerer’s bleeding body into a river, so I’m not really spoiling anything when I say that the story builds up to the older man’s death. Is it a murder, or a blood sacrifice in the name of art? Is he the darling being killed, or is there something more symbolic going on here? The screenplay, written by Krokidas and Austin Bunn (and, full disclosure: I went to college with these guys), provokes a lot of questions about the nature of influence, of tradition and revival and death and rebirth. And, for a while, it juggles all of them fairly effectively, in part thanks to the uniformly excellent cast. As Ginsberg, Daniel Radcliffe has to do a lot of journeying: He’s our audience surrogate, but he also has to go from wide-eyed naïf to burgeoning visionary, hinting at the oddball, revolutionary figure he’d eventually become. It’s one of the film’s boldest ideas, actually, to take the perpetually alienating and uncompromising Ginsberg as our “in.” But it works: Watch his queasiness, the tremble in his face, as he opens his acceptance letter to Columbia. DeHaan, for his part, finally gets to smile in a movie sort of and you can see what it is that draws all these people to Lu. It’s a surprisingly tricky part a person who in real life would likely be insufferable, the kind of entitled who walks into a party, kisses the first girl he sees, and complains that she tastes “like imported sophistication and domestic cigarettes.” But the young actor lends him just enough torment; you sense genuine vulnerability lurking behind all that fey confidence. Krokidas is smart enough to let most of the film’s drama play out in close-ups and to get out of his actors’ way. But he also offers up stylized montages, perhaps in an effort to convey the artistic revolution being cooked up: Some scenes play out (briefly) in reverse; background action stops; the action slows down. But it’s a very old-fashioned version of “style” and “experimentation” lacking the looseness, the hypnotic unpredictability of the Beats. Even a couple of utterly conventional contemporary pop songs rear their heads. (One of them, TV on the Radio’s “Wolf Like Me,” has already been overused in movies including Joseph Kahn’s Detention, a film which, for all its flaws, is probably closer in experimental spirit to the Beats than anything in Kill Your Darlings.) Narratively, Kill Your Darlings can’t quite keep all its balls in the air, and by the end all these connections the film attempts to forge between the murder, the war, gay sex, culture, etc. begin to feel more like a thesis than a human drama. And the canned stylization does the subject no favors, either. Full Review »
  2. Mar 24, 2014
    8
    "Kill Your Darlings" es una buena pelicula de drama, con un gran argumento y buenas actuaciones por parte del reparto.Esta pelicula tiene algo que la hace muy interesante, esta basada en hechos reales, eso hace que el espectador se entretenga. Full Review »
  3. Mar 18, 2014
    7
    Still not satisfied with Daniel Radcliffe performance. He has to come out from the character Harry Potter. He must lose his eye glass and try to give natural expressions. He has to learn a lot to be a great actor in this competitive cinema world or downfall is guaranteed.

    It was a good story, but Radcliffe ruined it in few occasions. He tried his best in many parts, I liked his hard work and execution. I though Dane DeHaan tried to stir whole ship by himself behalf of his co-stars, but his role was not built well. Because the story was told from Radcliffe perspective. Yeah, it is the fact that Dane DeHaan saved the movie as much he could.

    It was based on a real person and a gay theme. The story sets in the 40s where two students in the English major in Columbia university try to revolutionise the future literacy with their unique ideas. The efforts are made, but stuck in a confused relationship that harms everything in front of them.

    As based on homosexual from an earlier era, it was presented well. Kept background secrets of a character to break in at a right time of the story. Initially the title explains its meaning, but as the story progress it becomes more reality. I feel bad to blame everything on Radcliffe but I know someday I gonna praise him with my full heart. I was saying that it would have been nice if his role was given to some other actors like Andrew Garfield or Freddie Highmore. That means it is not a red signal to skip this movie, believe me it is a good movie.
    Full Review »