Directed by: Lynne Ramsay
Countries & Regions: United Kingdom
Length: 112 mins
Region: Region 2
Released: 27 February 2012
Cat No: ART581DVD
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We Need To Talk About Kevin
Scottish filmmaker Lynne Ramsay directs this adaptation of the bestselling novel by Lionel Shriver. Tilda Swinton stars as Eva, the... Read More
We Need to Talk About Kevin marks Lynne Ramsay’s return to British cinema after a nine-year hiatus and tackles, in an intoxicating mix of horror, thriller and melodrama one of society’s taboos at full tilt. What if… a mother does not love her child and should he commit a crime, is it a result of nature or nurture?
Ramsay’s acute distillation of Lionel Shriver’s bestseller overhauls the novel’s structure in which a traumatised mother (Eva) exorcises her demons about the crime of her son (Kevin) via a series of letters to her estranged husband. Instead it plunges straight into Eva’s fractured mind, beset by grief, guilt, self-loathing and shame. Then in a dizzying array of interweaving flashbacks, it seamlessly moves from her day-to-day life, visits to her incarcerated son and their years of internecine battles, culminating in a high school massacre.
Tilda Swinton plays the omnipresent Eva with exceptional power and emotional range, one moment resembling an icy Modigliani portrait, the next a lifeless Munch cadaver. Almost matching her intensity are the three actors who play Kevin, especially as a teenager (Ezra Miller). Chillingly nasty, these are boys you would do well to keep away from kid sisters and archery equipment. This just leaves John C. Reilly as Eva’s ineffectual husband, to complete cinema’s most dysfunctional family since Mildred Pierce (1945).
Viewers concerned about the depiction of Kevin’s crimes should dispel their worries as on-screen violence is kept to a minimum. Instead Ramsay leaves her top-notch production team to create unease and menace. Take for example, the sinister use of the colour red imperceptibly woven through the film’s fabric, from the sickening hues of the Tomatina festival that Eva recalls in one of her reveries, via the paint thrown over her house to the cloying soft toy that continually unsettles domestic scenes.
Borrowing Ramsay’s words, Kevin is a ‘mother and son story’, rather than a ‘high school massacre film’. It is primarily about a mother trying, failing and then trying again to love her son. And, as she embraces Kevin during her last prison visit and walks towards the light, perhaps redemption is not too far away.