Saturday, 22 October 2011

We Need To Talk About Kevin - review

We Need To Talk About Kevin is one of the most visually arresting films of the year but unlike films such as Tree of Life and Melancholia which I accused of being "pretentious and style over substance", Kevin is a deeply thought provoking study of the age old debate of "nature versus nurture" as a mother attempts to rebuild her life following a terrible crime perpetrated by her son, and forces herself to look back at her life and figure out if Kevin was born as bad as Damien from The Omen or if his behaviour was ultimately her fault.
Tilda and Kevin nervously waited backstage for their turn to audition for Britain's Got Talent
The film's structure differs from that of the novel, using flashbacks rather than Eva's letters to her ex-husband, but it works due to director Lynne Ramsay's total control over the medium and her use of visuals, sound and storytelling.  She allows the audience to put the missing pieces together and draw their own conclusions as who is to blame.  Although, and this might sound a tad harsh, I think that if I was raised by Tilda Swinton, I might have turned out a little odd too.
Swinton puts in a fantastic multi-layered performance as the mother of the devil.  She appears as a ghost in her own life following the tragedy, searching for an answer to the impossible question "WHY?", and during the flashbacks it is a role that draws similarities to Lee Remick in The Omen, where she is the only one who can see the evil growing inside her own spawn.
Oscar winner Swinton however more than meets her match in the form of the three boys who play Kevin at various stages throughout his adolescence.  Ezra Miller has rightly been receiving plaudits for his malevolent dead eyed enigma, but in my own humble opinion, Jaspar Newell who plays Kevin between the ages of 6-8 is just as good.  It is a very mature and sinister portrayal for someone so young.
Don't go in expecting any clear cut answers but there is enough going on in this film that when it's all over, you'll be guaranteed to be talking about Kevin.

4 stars

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