13 November, 2011

Savannah: "We Need to Talk About Kevin" (****1/2)

Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly star in "We Need to Talk About Kevin"
Ever since Scottish director Lynne Ramsay's “We Need to Talk About Kevin” premiered to critical acclaim in Cannes this past May, I've been one of many with high, high hopes. Going back to 2008 when star Tilda Swinton won her Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for “Michael Clayton,” I was a bit of a sore loser over her beating out Cate Blanchett's Bob Dylan in “I'm Not There.” I think Swinton is a gifted actress, but I've only really become a fan with her post-Oscar roles. Her stunning performance in “Kevin” is all the more rewarding because it anchors such a powerful film.

Based on a 2003 novel by Lionel Shriver, “We Need to Talk About Kevin” follows Eva Katchadourian (Swinton) as she raises her son and deals with the aftermath of the mass murder he commits at his high school. The film manages to accomplish a lot without the use of much dialogue. The book is written as a series of letters from Katchadourian to her husband Franklin (John C. Reilly), but Ramsay was able to tell the same story without any narration. Recollections are intertwined seamlessly with present day, allowing the audience to see a full account of the tension and struggle of the past with the misfortune and uneasiness of Katchadourian's present circumstance.

I haven't seen a single color used so purposefully throughout an entire film since the same deep red was used so handily in Pedro Almodovar's “Volver.” I would think such a visually-leaning film like this would be easier to make if it were an original screenplay rather than adapted, but I see that as a testimony to the talent of the filmmaker.

The film certainly doesn't offer any comfort aside from a couple of unexpectedly touching moments between mother and son placed at two polar opposite times in the story. Swinton's face so naturally lends itself towards desperation, making those moments all the more meaningful when she is transformed. Kevin's character, played by Ezra Miller and younger counterparts Jasper Newell and Rocky Duer, is definitely a tag-team effort. Miller isn't any better than Newell despite having a bit more to chew on. Reilly was good enough as Kevin's loveable lump of a father, but perhaps could have had more to do.

If the movie can get seen by enough Academy members, it should have no problem landing Swinton a Best Actress nod in the very least for one of the best performances I've seen all year.

4.5 out of 5 stars.


  1. CANNOT WAIT to see this! Ratcatcher is an all-time favorite of mine.

  2. Over the last couple of months since I've seen it, my love for it has only grown. It opens in Atlanta February 17th.