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We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011)

DVD Cover (Oscilloscope Pictures)
Genres:
Drama, Psychological Drama
Director:
Lynne Ramsay Lynne Ramsay
Starring:
Tilda Swinton Tilda Swinton
John C. Reilly John C. Reilly
Ezra Miller Ezra Miller
Jasper Newell Jasper Newell
Rock Duer Rock Duer

7.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: December 10, 2011
We need to talk about Kevin but first we need to talk about Tilda. Swinton that is. Very few actresses could pull off this role the way that she does; very few actresses are as fearless as Swinton. She won an Oscar for her subtle and nuanced villainy in "Michael Clayton" and should have been nominated for "I Am Love" and "The Deep End". Here she plays a character so complex and so riveting that she forces the audience to make tough decisions about how she should be viewed. Is she a monster? Is she a victim? Is she either or neither? Based on the novel by Lionel Shriver, "We Need to Talk About Kevin" offers no easy answers and a world full of thought.

This film is about the relationship between Eve (Tilda Swinton) and her son, Kevin (Jasper Newell/Ezra Miller). The film is told in present day with flashbacks that take us from Kevin's conception all the way through until the 'incident' which will not be a surprise to anyone paying attention in the first few minutes. Eve is not a very loving mother and she does not know how to relate to her son. Kevin is not a very loving son and doesn't enjoy being mothered at all. As a small child, Eve and Kevin have numerous 'showdowns' where one is determined to out-maneuver the other. Everything Kevin does seems designed to torment and punish her. But for what? Maybe for bringing him into this world, perhaps? There is a quite chilling scene where Eve's anger pushes her to the limit and she accidentally injures her son, finally getting through to him and possibly setting into motion a disastrous course of events.

The older Kevin gets, the less and less affected Eve seems by his behavior. He is horrible to his little sister, only associates with his mother at her request; yet he seems to love and adore his father, played by John C. Reilly. Eventually, Even's suspicions against her son start to take a toll on her marriage and that only exacerbates her relationship with Kevin. As told out of sequence to some extent, we learn early-on what 'event' has turned Eve's life upside down and what has caused her to start reminiscing in such a way. If you haven't read the book, you still might find yourselves shocked at the details of what happened - I know I was. You have prepared yourself for it but you still don't know how to react when it arrives. Kudos to the film-making team for making it work.

The issue at the heart of this film is 'nature versus nurture'. Eve spends the majority of the film in a state of grief, wondering if it was she who inadvertently caused these horrible things to happen. Did she not try hard enough with her son? Was it something she could have prevented? Was it beyond her control. In that respect, did she really ever love her son and did he ever really love her? I think the end of the film answers this question and actually eludes to something almost sort of maybe possibly resembling a more upbeat conclusion, if that is even possible. The film also raises another valid question - "Is it possible to 'not' love your children or your parents from birth?" What if we just don't attach to them? How can that color the rest of our lives?

Tilda Swinton is tremendous here in one of the finest performances of the year. She makes you feel for Eve even when she is doing something most of us would deem unforgivable; we kind of understand. She has so many emotions to play with this role and the correlation between past and present is so remarkable. Also delivering one hell of a performance is Ezra Miller as teenage Kevin. I just watched him totally underused in "Another Happy Day" so it's nice to see him turn in such a powerful performance. We see the tension so clearly between Kevin and Eve - it's palpable and we just can't figure out why it's there or where it came from.

I cannot think of a better film in 2011 than "We Need to Talk About Kevin". It has stayed with me ever since I watched it and I cannot get some of the imagery out of my head. Lynne Ramsay has crafted quite a piece of art here and her entire production team have taken the already potent novel and perfected on it even more. I would love to see Best Director and Best Cinematography nominations come to this film in addition to Best Actress for Tilda Swinton. Hell, I would even throw Ezra Miller a supporting nod. I just thoroughly loved this film and cannot wait to see it again. I cannot recommend it any more than I already have. 10/10.
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