Saturday, 15 October 2011

We Need To Talk About Kevin

We need to talk about Kevin. I need to talk about Kevin. I need someone to talk about Kevin with. Fewer films seen in a cinema this year have left me so cold or so troubled than the harrowing imagery found in this. The brilliant, Tilda Swinton - a favourite of the blog - stars as Eva, a reasonably decent woman whose life is thrown into great turmoil when her son, Kevin (Ezra Miller) commits a Columbine-esque shooting on his own school. The narrative skips between the aftermath and sporadic flashbacks of the boy's life and his somewhat strained relationship with his mother.

Tilda Swinton conducted herself so eloquently in this film, possibly the finest role I've seen her in to date. She came across as a very sympathetic soul which I'm sure to much lesser degrees all parents in the audience could quite easily relate to, and her experiences could quite well put off any aspiring parents from the idea of having children altogether - me included. She seemed to drift through the film, especially in the "aftermath", with this lost numbness struck upon her face. It's not comfortable, but it's extremely compelling.

Personally speaking Ms Swinton's acting ability was never in doubt anyway, as she's probably one of the finest British actresses of her generation, the bigger revelation of the film lies within the haunting performance of young Ezra Miller as Kevin, himself. Never, with maybe the exception of the original Omen trilogy, have I seen pure evil personified in a single being so seamlessly. It almost conjures - random and unrelated, I'll concede - memories of watching The Dark Knight and how Michael Caine's Alfred sums up The Joker which I think can also be applied to Miller's character: "Some men aren't looking for anything logical. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn."

With some slightly twisted musings I have often wondered, how does someone become like that? Do you blame the friends and influences around him? Possibly. His upbringing or his parents? Large portion of the time, almost certainly. However none of this really seems to apply to Kevin, which makes his actions and his relationship with his reasonably loving and devoted parents all the more troubling. Something which resonated with me for hours since leaving the cinema.

If Miller doesn't get at least an nomination for best supporting actor when award season comes along, then he at least deserves my unofficial award of "most sinister villain of the year". His on screen chemistry with Swinton was fantastic, complete with strife and respect rather than any genuine tenderness. It was almost as if they treated each other like mortal enemies rather than family.

Though I haven't read the book, so can't comment on how faithful the adaptation was, I must say Lynne Ramsay's direction was masterful in parts. Some of that credit must also come to the narrative structure set out in her screenplay she penned alongside Rory Kinnear.

That's not to say it's all deep, dark, unsettling imagery, it seems to subtly throw in the odd bitter-sweet moment which made sections of the audience smirk or giggle at the sheer awkwardness of it all - if nothing else than to release tension at times, especially when set against to the caustic revelations in the final act, brought through so exquisitely by the bold and brilliant score from Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood.

Final Thoughts
Believe those daft statements in the posters and trailers, this is Tilda Swinton's greatest performance of her career to date. We Need To Talk About Kevin is an almost nightmarish odyssey through the most terrifying of family tragedies, and will probably leave you feeling more pale and unsettled than any horror film will this year. Or perhaps just put you off the idea of ever having kids. Go see it, and once you do, maybe you'll need to talk about Kevin too...


We Need To Talk About Kevin is in selected cinemas throughout the UK from Friday October 21st 2011.

No comments: