Release Date: 21st October 2011
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Cast: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller
Running Time: 112mins
Every once in a while a film comes along that I really cannot wait to see. We Need To Talk About Kevin was one such film. Lynne Ramsay’s take on Lionel Shriver’s novel of the same name had me intrigued from the very first time I saw the trailer a couple of months ago, and it’s fair to say the full feature not only lived up to, but exceeded my expectations.
Told through flashbacks, we explore the guilt felt by grief stricken Eva (Tilda Swinton), who – after never truly bonding with her first child Kevin – is forced to live with the repercussions of certain atrocities that Kevin commits in his adolescence.
The relationship between the two we learn has been stretched right from Kevin’s birth, and it is clear that even from a young age Kevin had all but openly declared war on his own mother, aiming to make her life hell, while appearing to be nothing but sweetness to his father who starts to question whether Eva is simply making it all up in her head. (an interesting turn for John C. Reilly)
The film is almost difficult to watch in places, because the abuse that both Eva and Kevin are responsible for is so utterly abhorrent, and yet at the same time it is difficult to look away. This is completely captivating and thrilling to watch, but it is clearly not going to be one for all audiences – it is fair to say that for anyone looking to leave the cinema with a smile and a happy feeling inside: this is not the film to see.
From acts of physical abuse inflicted on Kevin by his mother, to the far more cerebral way in which Kevin goes about getting under his mother’s skin (pushing all the right buttons and always staying one step ahead of her) – the relationship is one of the most twisted you will see on screen in some time and yet ultimately it never feels forced. You genuinely believe in these characters, and in their individual traumas and issues.
Swinton is excellent throughout, in that you never know exactly how to feel for her. While it is clear that to an extent, the way Kevin turned out was her fault, it is also made abundantly clear that he never made life easy on her either, and the way the role is played really explores this duality.
It is relative newcomer Ezra Miller though, as the teenage Kevin who really owns the screen. Every shot he is in you are drawn to him, and it was amazing to watch his transition into what can only be called psychopathy.
I think it’s fair to say that this film achieves exactly what it sets out to do in the title. We will all be talking about Kevin for some time to come.