A film hot on the heels of Walter Salles’ perspective on the Beat Generation of Jack Kerouac and co released earlier this year. Here, the story focuses on the coming of age of budding poet in the making Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) and his erotic fascination with Lucien Carr (Dane DeHaan) whilst the two of them studied together at Columbia university in 1940’s New York City. I wasn’t expecting to get anything out of this, and was simply envisaging more pretentious glorification of just how self absorbed they all were, as they continue to drag their lives into ever increasing circles of depravity, a vicious symbiosis with their writing careers (misery and poetry do often go hand in hand) all whilst the audience ask themselves who exactly would want anything to do with these people?
This sort of egotistical masturbation does exist, and it is annoying, but as the film progresses the story and in no small measure the good central performances begin to make it quite interesting – Radcliffe in particular has a very good turn, with a convincing accent to boot. The film opens with Carr in jail for murder, and the rest primarily fills in the blanks as to what led to it. The murder in question is a matter of historical record which inevitably most of the Beat Generation wrote about at one point or another – here the details have been shifted around a little, but the essence of events seems to be well captured. An interesting and impressive directorial debut from John Krokidas and, ahem, miles better than ‘On the Road‘.