Monday, 24 October 2011

[512] We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011) Review

The LFF finishes this week, which means you should see most of my coverage go online. In the meantime, here's a review of what is probably my favourite film of the festival so far. And it's out on general release right now!

We Need To Talk About Kevin. It's an odd name, really, but that didn't stop Lionel Shriver's novel from becoming a bestseller. Even now, as an adaptation from director Lynne Ramsay hits the big screen, the title still has a compelling sense of mystery, but its the film’s constant subversion of expectations that makes it utterly distinctive.

The plot centres on the relationship between Eva Khatchadourian (Tilda Swinton) and her son, Kevin (Ezra Miller), cutting back and forth in time between a post-traumatic present, where Eva lives alone, and the past, where Eva and her husband Franklin (John C. Reilly) settle down to raise a family. After Kevin is born, Eva’s previous life of freedom and adventure is slowly given up in favour of full-time motherhood; but parenting proves particularly unpleasant, as Kevin grows from toddler to teenager, and turns out to be a real terror of a son - culminating in a horrific episode which upsets not only the family’s life, but that of their local community, too.

The film’s central character drama slowly unfurls, hazily moving between dream and memory, using hyper-real cinematography and dislocated sound and image to deeply unsettle the viewer. As its premise would suggest, there is darkness at the film’s heart, but the way this is manifested is consistently surprising. The basic plot calls up various genre readings - problem child horror, psycho-thriller, domestic melodrama - but Ramsay darts from one to the other, dodging tropes at every turn.

Read the full article here.

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