We Need to Talk About Kevin Review
by Joshua Handler
by Joshua Handler
2011. 112 minutes
Rated R for disturbing violence and behavior, sexuality and language
We Need to Talk About Kevin is one of the best of 2011 and director Lynne Ramsay and star Tilda Swinton got completely snubbed by the Oscars. Based on a book, We Need to Talk About Kevin follows Eva, a woman who raises a difficult child, Kevin, and how her hatred for him and his hatred for her spiral out of control, literally driving Eva to insanity.
Director Lynne Ramsay uses this film as art, not entertainment (I dare you to find any recent release that is more unnerving) and puts a distinct stamp on the film. Her use of surreal imagery and extensive use of blood-red gives the film an especially unnerving air. The opening of the film is a shot of an open bedroom window that leads to a scene of Eva partaking in La Tomatina, a large Spanish tomato fight. The red color of the tomato covers and consumes her, foreshadowing what is to come. It is never explained if this is a dream or something that happened in the past, but a scene such as this epitomizes Ramsay's directorial stamp. What follows this scene is Eva in the present day after some terrible event (we do not know what until later) has happened. The film then cuts back and forth effortlessly between Kevin's childhood and the present day revealing what led to that which is hinted at earlier.
The depiction of Eva's dive into insanity is portrayed brilliantly by Tilda Swinton in a one of her best roles. Her coldness (she tells Kevin that she would rather be in Paris than playing with him) and hatred toward her son make us hate her and Swinton does a masterful job portraying that. As despicable as she is, I almost felt crushed by how unhappy she is. I don't know why I cared for her, but I truly did. That is amazing acting.
Overall, We Need to Talk About Kevin is extraordinary, one that completely unnerved me by the end. I have seen such extreme films as A Serbian Film and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover, but this film did something different: it immersed the horror and never let its hold go. Brilliant.