23 November 2011
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN- Review
The script, by Rory Kinnear and director Lynne Ramsey, takes great pains to work from the first-person focus of Lionel Shriver's novel, and so the film largely takes place around, and from the point-of-view of Eva Khatchadourian. She's stigmatised by society for the actions of her sociopath son, Kevin, and through seeing the various points in her life, it is clear that she has failed to connect with him, if not for lack of trying. Though her husband, Franklin, adores their son, the antagonism between Eva and Kevin can only come to a devastating conclusion.
The structure of the film is really something special. By taking it upon itself to recreate the perspective of the novel as closely as possible, the film becomes something very claustrophobic. At times, you're invited to see Eva as an unreliable narrator, but if you think one thing near the beginning of the film, you're likely to have changed your mind by the end. In terms of character rather than camera perspective, it's as close to a first-person movie as I've ever seen, and Tilda Swinton is stupefying in that all-important lead role.
The other effect of the non-linear narrative is to really ramp up the foreshadowing and foreboding. Knowing everything we know about Kevin at the first point that we see his younger sister, Celia, we're dismayed to see that she's wearing an eyepatch. This is quite early on in the film, and until you find out the cause of that injury, you can't help but speculate. Kevin teases his sister mercilessly, using a vaccuum cleaner at one point. Elsewhere, Kevin takes up archery. My own presumptions and attempts to pre-empt that sub-plot unsettled me deeply, and when the actual cause is revealed, there's no respite from the reveal.
Ramsey's direction isn't beholden to a linear narrative, but it's not just the structure that demands your uneqiuvocal attention. Much has been made of the film's heavy-handed use of the colour red, which links post-Kevin Eva to Lady Macbeth and the earlier scenes to a sense of impending danger and violence, but it is my opinion that the film is far more potent in its action than in its symbolism. The film has more shocks from scene to scene than your average horror film, and if anything, it's a social horror story, playing upon the dynamics of a troubled family relationship, and upon what society's grief inflicts upon Eva.
We Need To Talk About Kevin is still showing in selected cinemas nationwide. The film will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on February 13th 2012.
If you've seen We Need To Talk About Kevin, why not share your comments below?
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.