The American writers known as the "Beat Generation" are now considered one of the seminal groups in twentieth century literature - a bold movement to take on in a debut feature film. But one that writer-director John Krokidas addresses successfully in his tale of the beginnings of the Beat Generation, following Allen Ginsberg (an unexpectedly engaging Daniel Radcliffe) as he joins Columbia University as a freshman in 1944.
Ginsberg soon finds a kindred spirit at Columbia, enraptured by the maverick stylings of fellow student Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan). Carr introduces him to William Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston), as well as obsessive lover David Kammerer (Michael C Hall), who eventually acts as a central plot device.
While Radcliffe's turn as Ginsberg may be revelatory in a performance consumed by emotion, Dane De Haan's piercing work as Carr is as typically excellent as we have come to expect since 'Chronicle'. Few of the other characters have a worthy amount of character development, and it's particularly disappointing for an actress of the calibre of Elizabeth Olsen to be sidelined to nothing more than a few irritating lines of dialogue.
Krokidas employs a somewhat gimmicky style of direction, especially but perhaps understandably in the hazier drug-fuelled scenes. This can be distracting, along with the confusingly anachronistic soundtrack, which features the likes of The Libertines and TV On The Radio. Nonetheless, there is something electric at the heart of 'Kill Your Darlings', making it difficult to avert your gaze from a story that becomes steadily more arresting as it develops.
'Kill Your Darlings' is out in UK cinemas now, through The Works.