We Need To Talk About Kevin – or ‘I Need To Talk About Tilda’
Reading makes me tired, I’ll be honest with you, there’s so much effort involved with reading ‘words’ and turning ‘pages’ – who has the time. So when it comes to book-to-film adaptations, usually I have no idea about the original text. So it should come as no surprise when I say I haven’t read Lionel Shriver’s We Need To Talk About Kevin, however I did get the opportunity to see Lynne Ramsay’s film version, and to be perfectly blunt, it is stunning.
A film like Kevin is difficult to talk about – simply because saying you enjoyed it may spur people to believe you’re deeply disturbed and emotionally unstable. Now, I’m not saying I’m not both of those things (in spades), but We Need To Talk About Kevin will be one of those films that stays in my mind for weeks, if not months. This isn’t simply due to the story, but rather how the story is told, how Ramsay unfolds the characters, the events, the music, the shots, and of course, the performances. Simply put, this will definitely be one of my favorite films of the year.
The story centres on Eva, the mother of a teenage boy who goes on a killing spree in his high-school, both her life before, during and after the event – and how her life continued to change all at the hands of her son, Kevin. First of all, it’s obvious that I’ll need to gush about Tilda Swinton. Swinton has, and continues to be a rapidly expanding talent. I think it was in Io sono l’amore (I Am Love) that she truly stole my heat. But it is with her delicate, soft-spoken performance as Eva that she made my heart stop. The rest of the cast are also great – although I’m still not comfortable with John C. Reilly doing serious roles – but Ezra Miller’s Kevin is chilling, and understated, making him a perfect pairing for Swinton.
What I loved about this film was the storytelling. In adapting the novel, Ramsay takes every sensory aspect and amplifies it to such a level that it’s gripping, and jarring at the same time. It is only after several scenes that the character on screen and the audio sync up. Then there are the images of food, eating, drinking, any minor human action- Ramsay takes it to such an extreme level that it turns into a grotesque performance. And it works so well.
Throughout the film there are moments of serious emotional turmoil – while classic hits from the 50s play. The joy of Buddy Holly’s Everyday playing while Eva breaks down in her car is something I don’t think I’ll ever really forget. While the cinematography did – on one or two occasions – become too ‘artistic’ and pulled focus from the story, it wasn’t long until you’re thrown back into the gut-churning fire of the film.
This is a film that isn’t easy to watch, it isn’t what you’d call ‘enjoyable’ but it is brilliant. All the choices within the film, be it aesthetics, cinematography, performance, or even the simple changes in Eva’s outfits, they all merge on one of the most intense films I have seen in a long time.
If you’re a fan of the novel, or just a fan of great film-making – We Need To Talk About Kevin is not to be missed.