We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011)

Something has happened. Something bad. Forced to scrape red paint from her house’s vandalised exterior and endure the hurtful taunts of self-righteous neighbours, Eva Khatchadourian (Tilda Swinton) strives to make ends meat as she mindlessly funds her uncharacteristically stoic existence with an entry-level job. It wasn’t always this way, however, as a parallel timeline hints at happier days in the lead up to her first pregnancy with husband Franklin (John C. Reilly). Following the birth of Kevin (Ezra Miller), a chain of events are seemingly set in motion as audiences are forced to watch the future play our with a devastating and utterly tragic inevitability.

Bear with me, I realise that the last thing you want to read is ANOTHER gushing review of Lynne Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin. The problem is, however, that it is one of those movies – those very few movie – that does everything right, hits every one of its notes beautifully, and is simultaneously both culturally significant and genuinely Oscar-worthy – not always mutually inclusive. Hot on the heals of summer, with its mystical hammers and friends with benefits, We Need To Talk About Kevin is the perfect antidote to the blockbuster season’s brazen but insubstantial delights.

“But”, I hear you ask, “doesn’t it have John C. Reilly in it”? It does, but while that is often as reliable a cause for concern as an encroaching planet named Melancholia or the words “Keith Lemon” and “movie”, you really needn’t worry: John C. Reilly is *gulp* brilliant as the loving father blind to both his wife’s suffering and his son’s burgeoning inhumanity. In fact, if the film’s cast wasn’t so uniformly strong, there might even have been a case to be made for best performance from a leading actor. As it stands, however, not even a surprisingly affable turn from Dewey Cox himself can come close.

Tilda Swinton is simply astonishing as a mother bereft of any maternal love for her Damionic child, a woman who would most likely turn to alcoholism if her nightly glass of wine came anywhere close to alleviating the pain that Kevin brings her, both before and after The Event which ultimately comes to define everything. Having met her a free spirited and gregarious younger woman, her transformation into societal whipping-horse is all the more tragic. With earlier scenes outfitted in the cinematographic equivalent of rose tinted glasses (scored with laughter and blurred with sensuality), the clinical starkness of later scenes proves wholly, harrowingly unflinching.

But we really are here to talk about Kevin; beautiful, ugly, malevolent Kevin. Cast by Ramsay almost upon introduction, Ezra Miller is said to exude a certain Kevin-ness which made hiring him an absolute necessity. Played with unwavering hatefulness by three different actors (not counting the gestating foetus which itself resembles pure, unadulterated evil), Kevin is – almost from birth – a truly terrifying creation. Miller’s performance is cold, calculating and counter-intuitively compelling; he is perfectly horrifying without once raising his voice, jumping out of the shadows or making that petrifying clicking noise attributed to cursed Japanese children.

It is this understatement that defines We Need To Talk About Kevin. From its matter of fact title to Ramsay’s bi-linear adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s epistolary novel, this is no-frills masterpiece-making at its most engaging. There is no period dress, no operatic over-emotion and no delusions of grandeur, just an exquisitely unrelenting build-up of tension that deserves – heck, demands – your recognition. All of it.


About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

3 Responses to We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011)

  1. Nostra says:

    Nice to see you like it so much. I saw this during a day together with a couple of other stunning movies (Drive, The Skin I Live in, The Ides of March) and it didn’t disappoint.

  2. Pingback: November 2011 – There’s Always Time For A Bow « popcornaddict

  3. Pingback: Films of the Year – 2011 « popcornaddict

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