We Need to Talk About Kevin: Best movies of 2011, pick 6

Written by  Sal Kapoor
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We Need to Talk About Kevin: Best movies of 2011, pick 6

The subject of high-school killings has been covered by several filmmakers such as Michael Moore (Bowling for Columbine) and Gus Van Sant (Elephant). It’s a very difficult subject and not easy viewing. We Need to Talk About Kevin is, however, essential viewing. Directed by Lynn Ramsay and adapted from the novel by Lionel Shriver, We need to talk about Kevin is a harrowing visual memoir which culminates with Kevin’s incarceration after he massacres several of his high school peers.

We need to Talk about Kevin

We need to Talk about Kevin

There is the moral dilemma which to some extent, Ramsay appears non-committal and ambiguous around; who is to blame and where this blame ought to rest.

Eva (Tilda Swinton), unable to bond with baby Kevin, flashes back and forward in a non-linear narrative as she attempts to comprehend at what point it became obvious that Kevin was a sociopath.

Similar to Lee Remick in The Omen and Mia Farrow in Polanski’s tale of witchcraft, Rosemary’s Baby, Eva feels alienated, almost invaded by her newborn baby Kevin. In the same way as Lars Von Trier’s Anti Christ owes Sam Raimi (Evil Dead with therapy) Ramsay owes The Omen.

Eva is portrayed as icy and unbalanced, thus, complicating the movie’s dilemma further as she attempts to bond with Kevin. At one point, she loses her temper at the problematic child and breaks his arm.

Was this the incident that finally determined Kevin’s apathy and outlook on the world?

The movie’s strength lies in Ramsay’s ability to suggest through sub-text, staged with looks and gestures. The mise-en scene is drenched in red light, foreshadowing the bloody event and Kevin’s birth.

The acting and performances are persuasive. Kevin (child and teen) does a great job as a sub-goth and remarkably resembles his mother’s gaunt and skeletal frame. He sneers with contempt at his mother throughout the movie until the final scene where he admits he does not know why he did what he did. Finally, he is able to accept the affection he craves from his mother. Sadly, It is way too late.

Eva’s memories are visualized in dream-like snippets as she reminisces of running in the rain to her high flying career to and then her gradual disintegration after her Kevin’s birth. The opening tomato festival sequence is fantasy, albeit, drenched in red, which morphs slowly into vandalized paint on her doorstep as, she becomes ostracized and bullied following Kevin’s arrest.

Throughout, until Kevin murders him, Eva’s husband is dismissive of her feelings and in marked contrast, Eva is able to bond with her second child and build a loving relationship.

The movie is every parent’s nightmare as Ramsay avoids pointing the finger at either Eva or Kevin in an abstract and ambiguous moral narrative. Instead, she portrays a complex dysfunction and behavioural pattern. Sadly, as in real life, this is also true.

Check out another must see movie review from Pinstripe Magazine, Hugo: Best movies of 2011, pick 5

Sal Kapoor


One Response to We Need to Talk About Kevin: Best movies of 2011, pick 6

  1. Pingback: Pinstripe Magazine's 10 Best movies of 2011

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