#277/ 365 – ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ – 112 mins
Cinema Challenge #111 / 115
Once fiercely independent, Eva (Tilda Swinton) put aside her writing ambitions to raise her son, Kevin (Jasper Newell). But the boy was always cold and difficult. As a result, her marriage to the more optimistic Franklin (John C. Reilly) suffered. At the age of 15, Kevin (Ezra Miller) committed a terrible crime – a Columbine-style shooting claiming the lives of many classmates. Now Eva is left to pick up the pieces. Tormented by guilt and abused by grieving parents, Eva agonises over the way she brought up her son and whether she could have done anything to prevent the massacre.
In this adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s critically acclaimed novel. We Need to Talk About Kevin provokes one powerful debate for its audience and is one which is guaranteed they will talking about long after the credits roll – Can someone be born evil or does this evil lay in their parental upbringing? And to what extent is Eva to blame? There are no easy answers.
The films nonlinear narrative flits back and forth through various flashbacks with relative ease, constantly planting the seeds of Kevin’s evilness along the way.
What sets aside We Need to Talk About Kevin from other everyday dramas and this isn’t everyday or escapist entertainment in any form. Is the visually arresting style director and screenwriter Lynne Ramsay employs to tell this haunting story, allowing the camera in every scene to meticulously peel away layer upon layer of Eva and Kevin’s explosive relationship until you’re left with nothing but the emotional numbness between the two.
In a key scene, unable to stop the Kevin from crying Eva wheels his pram to stand aside a road worker using a pneumatic drill. As the industrial noise drowns out the crying and Eva achieves a moment of resting peace she is soon seized by guilt.
Tilda Swinton delivers a revelation of a performance as Eva, truly making you feel for her character with both emotion and hatred. As we are entering awards season, we can easily expect to see her gather a truckload of nominations and justifiably so. Ezra Miller performance is chillingly brilliant as the teenage Kevin who airs out a form serene menace throughout. Equally impressive is Jasper Newell who portrays Kevin’s younger self with a calculating demonic style very much like Damien from the ‘Omen’.
The film is also greatly aided by a subtle but unsettling score from Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood.
In many scenes you see Eva trying to scrub away the horror of what Kevin as done – in turn this means you won’t be able to scrub this disturbingly sickening psychological drama, in part unconventional horror due its shock tactics from your memory for days or maybe even months after viewing.