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.