For Reel

We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)
January 14, 2012, 6:51 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Lynne Ramsay

Among the most harrowing of bad-seed pictures is We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lynne Ramsay’s long-awaited follow-up to Morvern Callar. Tilda Swinton plays Eva, a travel writer who settles down in the suburbs to raise a family with her loving husband, Franklin. Their first child, Kevin, is a sadist who delights in torturing her from the crib until his teen years. While Swinton’s sacrifices in motherhood are perhaps glossed over too quickly (the opening moments reveal that, as a travel writer, she had a life of idyllic cultural indulgence), she does enough on screen to suggest her resentment of her son without risking a total loss of dignity through the consistency of her victimization. Watch, for instance, the scene in which she takes Kevin out for a mother-son date, which is as much an attempt at bonding as it is an act of aggression. There is little to Kevin’s character that would distance him from a routine horror villain (not to take anything away from the three actors that play him who, in an impressive feat of casting, not only have the same reptilian cheekbones but an identical brooding stare), but this isn’t a film about him – it is a film about parenting and, even if the son is drawn thinly, Swinton’s reactions to him are more than enough to propel a compelling narrative.


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