We Need To Talk About Kevin

Posted: October 29, 2011 by davidmrgn in Film
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In a nutshell: Thoughtful yet chilling – a worthy companion to the novel.

Popcorn rating: 4/5

Don’t expect any easy answers in We Need To Talk About Kevin.

The film, based on Lionel Shriver’s award-winning novel of the same name, may be about a high school massacre where the culprit is known, but, as the credits roll, your mind will still be ringing with questions about who’s to blame.

Morvern Callar director Lynne Ramsay stamps her unique style on the feature with an evocative and harrowing interpretation of the book.

But what is also brilliant is the cast. Ezra Miller is chilling as teenager Kevin and Tilda Swinton is exceptional as his troubled mum Eva. To a large extent, this is Eva’s story and Swinton’s solid performance is really what gives weight to the film.

Through a series of jumbled present-day sequences and flashbacks – which replace the letters to her husband in the book – you gradually start to see the deconstruction of Eva’s life. Expect painful contrasts between her past life in middle class comfort and her woes in the present day as she is demonised on a daily basis.

You can’t help but feel sympathetic as Eva is constantly stared at and even attacked by members of the victims’ family who hold her responsible. But is she a victim? After all, Eva was a free spirit and it is made abundantly clear she never wanted to be a mum. Her trips around the world are replaced by dirty nappies and a job in a travel agency. Eva feels trapped and you see stages in Kevin’s upbringing where he isn’t given the love and care by her that he probably needs. Then again, Kevin is clearly damaged and disillusioned in much deeper ways than a parent’s neglect, as the film puts a good case forward for the nature versus nurture argument.

We Need To Talk About Kevin is one of those odd films where you know the outcome before it happens but it doesn’t make it any less hard hitting or thought provoking. A haunting work, it is almost a companion piece to Gus Van Sant’s haunting and similarly themed Elephant.

 Reviewer: DavidMorgan

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