As literary advice, the notion that beleaguered writers must be willing to “kill your darlings” in order to find the truth in a passage or overall story is daring indeed. Striking that lovely line, crafted with such care and infused with panache, might just sink the whole piece, or it could guarantee a myth for the ages. So it is no surprise that co-writer (along with Austin Bunn) and director John Krokidas seems intent on borrowing the idea, as well as the line, for his film, which gathers the great beats together — Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), William Burroughs (Ben Foster), and Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) — and drops them in a murder mystery years before they carved their legends in stone.
Radcliffe, Foster and Dane DeHaan (as Lucien Carr) certainly embrace the directive, killing any and all past associations audiences have with them from other films through their bold leaps into this material, but this little-remembered episode from the Beat Generation’s early days obviously wasn’t worth keeping in their canonical backstory. (R) Grade: C+