Saturday 25 February 2012

Today's Review: We Need To Talk About Kevin

In the wake of a man made tragedy, everybody wants an answer. Why did this happen? Normally the media latches onto the first exploitable thing they can find, but the truth is there are any number of things that can make somebody do something unthinkable. We Need To Talk About Kevin is an exploration of these factors, and more.

Kevin (Ezra Miller) has always been a difficult boy, who has never shown any real attachment to his mother, Eva (Tilda Swinton). After several trials and tribulations growing up, Kevin performs an unthinkable action one day, leaving his mother to look back over her life and wonder where it all went wrong.

We Need To Talk About Kevin is certainly a hard hitting movie. There's not a moment where anything feels safe, there is always the event that has yet to fully unfold lurking in the background, and the snippets of the relationship between Eva and Kevin are often uncomfortable, sometimes cringeworthy. The best thing about this movie is that no one factor is focused on too much. Kevin is a difficult child, sure, but Eva harbours her own resentments and is certainly not a perfect parent. Internal, external, familial factors are all portrayed, but there is no clear winner, which is pretty accurate, as in real life we have no idea what makes any given person snap. 

Swinton puts on a very good performance, but it's probably the actors who play Kevin that shine through. We see Miller in the role for a short while, and he certainly oozes creepiness, but Jasper Newell, who plays Kevin aged six to eight, is quite a show stopper. At such a young age, he immediately instilled me with unease as I watched Eva struggling to communicate and tame a wild, young Kevin. 

Alongside the great performances there is a lot of imagery employed. Little glimpses in the background are portents of events to comes, and I haven't seen such great imagery of blood and violence since the opening credits of Dexter. Still, in creating so much unease and symbolism, the movie does move at quite a fast pace, switching between time periods at many points. If you're not paying attention, it's possible you may get lost.

We Need To Talk About Kevin is a good movie. Perhaps if it were a little bit more straightforward in its approach it would have had more of an impact, but the jumping between scenes and set pieces made the whole thing feel a little bit juddery. Still, it was certainly thought provoking and very well made.

My rating: 4/5

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