You can hear the buzz caused merely by casting Daniel Radcliffe as gay Beat poet Allen Ginsberg in the period drama Kill Your Darlings: “Harry Potter kisses a man! Harry Potter gets topped — and not by Dumbledore!” Yeah, yeah. And all that does happen, and in frank and surprising ways. But director John Krokidas’ story about before-they-were-famous literary lions Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston) and William Burroughs (Ben Foster) — all involved an the orbit of spoiled, troubled rich kid Lucian Carr (Dane DeHaan) and his obsessive lover (Michael C. Hall) — is more than a gimmick looking for a movie. The mid-century portrait of closeted gays in Bohemian New York, and the true-life thriller about lust and murder, is disarming and always keeps your attention.

Its drawback is that, as is true of almost all movies that try to capture the feel of the Beat Generation on film, it relies often on frantic editing of drug-and-booze fueled scribbling, crying and hair-pulling. Overlook the cliches, and revel in its thoughtful look at gay men at their creative and emotional peaks.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Now playing at the Angelika Film Centers in Dallas and Plano.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 15, 2013.