We Need to Talk About Kevin should be called We Need to Talk…Period

I really enjoyed this film. I had waited eagerly for it to come out in the cinema after watching the teasers and trailers. From the glimpses given us, we the potential audience saw what looked like the making of a mass murderer. The small snippets also gave the impression that Kevin was born damaged. In other words, born bad or evil.First of all I have to take my hat off to the three principal actors here.   Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly and Ezra Miller all gave a real tour de force in the way of performances. At no time did I not believe fully and totally in their characters. I of course have long loved the acting talents of Ms Swinton. I first became aware of her massive talent when I saw her in Constantine with Keanu Reeves. So honestly I really expect no less than the best from her performance. John C Reilly gave a thoroughly great turn as the father who doesn’t really know what is going on. The real jewel in the crown though, is Ezra Miller as Kevin. This young actor sold it. He has been acting since 2008 and it shows in his masterful performance as the troubled and troubling teen.

Director Lynne Ramsay along with Rory Kinnear did a brilliant job of adapting the book for the screen. In the book everything is told via the mother in letters. By using flash-backs, flash-forwards and present time inter-play they solved the problem of telling a story in a monotonous fashion. And the story is a good ‘un.

Essentially about Kevin, the story shows us his birth, child-hood and all the events that appear to show that he will ultimately turn out bad. He does indeed fulfil our expectations, but rather than believing that Kevin was really bad from the womb, we find that he had a lot of help from mum and dad.

Tilda Swinton as Kevin’s mother is a mixture of post natal depression, passive aggressive anxiety and sullen silence. She fails to bond with Kevin when he is born and never really manages to connect with him in a maternal way. It is almost as though she were the same mental age as Kevin. She at no time takes on the role of “grown-up.” John C. Reilly as Kevin’s dad comes across as one of those “matter-of-fact” dads. He always seems to be on the side of reason and understanding, but only on the most superficial level.

This dysfunctional family then decide to have another child (although decide is probably a bit of a misnomer, it appears to be the result of a drunken love-fest) And of course the entry of another child causes more problems.

Ultimately when the film’s events began to all come together to show what happened on the fateful day, I felt that they didn’t need to talk about Kevin at all. They just needed to talk. No one and I mean no one ever sat down and really spent time talking about anything. Problems were discussed very lightly if at all. The other apparent thing about the film was that Kevin took after mom. Dad placidity was not evident in Kevin’s personality. No, Kevin seemed to have gotten all the “good stuff” from mom’s gene-pool.

All in all this was a powerful film. Disturbing and thought provoking, this is not a film to be taken lightly. So if you are looking for a film that you can set back and eat popcorn and drink fizzy and enjoy, you might want to give it a miss. But if you like a film that makes you think and talk about it long after you’ve seen it? This one hits the mark.

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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