Reviewed Jul 16, 2012
Ghuznee Film Society Review: We Need To Talk About Kevin
D. Lynne Ramsay
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller
I’d never seen Tilda Swinton in a leading role before, it’s fair to say her reputation preceded her in this parable of maternal hell. She absolutely kills it as the mother of the titular Kevin, who from birth directs a decades-long psychopathic vendetta squarely at her.
I’ve heard many a story about the profound effect this film (and in the past few years, the book it’s based on) has on mothers, would-be mothers, hell, anyone with a womb! They Insectile Freakouttm beyond belief. Even my mother wouldn’t touch this one with a ten foot pole, and I never gave her much guff as a kid (well, I certainly never put any small animals in the In-Sink-Erator. We were never really in the income bracket for an In-Sink-Erator. Am I even spelling it right? It’s just such a foreign concept). I’m putting this maternal reaction down to the way Kevin is portrayed. Ezra Miller pours every narcissistic, sociopathic, antisocial stereotype into his role and the result is familiar to the point of caricature. His character arc is more of a straight line, punctuated with acts of cruelty and psychological torture. This didn’t sit well with my friends who saw the film with me, but it makes sense in context. The movie (especially the first 20 minutes) is a kaleidoscopic, chronologically skewed look at 20-odd years of detached memories from the mother’s point of view. Everyone is reduced to broad brushstrokes on a starkly beautiful canvas, not least of all her own son, who she can’t connect with and eventually demonizes. Miller’s un-nuanced performance makes sense considering this approach.
All in all, it’s one of those films that you don’t derive any kind of typical enjoyment from, but is absolutely worth a watch, in a traumatic way. Think a kind of Suburban Deliverance vibe.