We Need to Talk About Kevin

26 Mar

Director: Lynne Ramsay

Writers: Lynne Ramsay (screenplay), Rory Kinnear (screenplay), and 1 more credit

Stars: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly and Ezra Miller

Motion picture rating: R

Runtime:  112 minutes

 

 

What would you do if your child from birth was both menacing and unbearably difficult to love? It is a grim question, but one posed by this film (an adaptation of a 2003 book by Lionel Shriver). The fictional child in question is Kevin and from day one he is a real test of his mother’s composure. As a baby he does nothing but scream. As an infant he refuses to speak. He won’t be potty trained and is still soiling nappies aged about six. Kevin shows little compassion for others, he deliberately provokes his mother and maintains a blank dead-eyed look all of the time.

Kevin (played incredibly well by Jasper Newell 6 – 8 and then Ezra Miller 13 – 16) is clearly not a normal child. His mother (Tilda Swinton) has him tested, but medically he is fine and with his father he acts mostly as he should for his age. It is with his mother that the menacing and sociopathic behaviour occurs. The story of Kevin and his mother is told in flashback mode, but one that is deliberately disjointed so as to up the anxiety level. As such it is a proper thriller with warning signs and clues mixed into the narrative and with wide swashes of the colour red in many scenes.

The story of a nihilistic and sociopathic child, building towards a horrific and bloody climax, is not an easy subject and this is not an easy film to watch. It is, however, a superbly crafted piece of cinema that deserves plaudits. The lighting, pacing and composure of shots are supreme. The music, the editing and the acting is faultless. This really is a high class piece of work that is centred around Tilda Swinton’s phenomenal performance as the lonely and desperate mother. Hers is an unflinching performance and I found it and the film riveting.

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