Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Saturday, January 14, 2012

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Parental Desperation

Rated: R  Disturbing violence/behavior, some sexuality and language
Release Date: January 13, 2012
Runtime: 1 hr 51 min

Director: Lynne Ramsay
Writers: Lynne Ramsay, Rory Kinnear, novel by Lionel Shriver
Cast: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller, Rocky Duer, Jasper Newell, Ashley Gerasimovich

SYNOPSIS: Eva Khatchadourian sits in a dilapidated house and a dead end job with her grief and sense of responsibility wondering how her marriage and life were shattered by the actions of her teenage son.

 In a season of films by writer/directors, another touted film has come to the attention of the award shows in the form of Tilda Swinton's film We Need To Talk About Kevin. Directed by Lynne Ramsay (Morvern Callar) and co-written by the director and Rory Kinear from the novel of the same name by Lionel Shriver.

In Lionel Shriver's novel, Eva Khatchadourian writes in the first-person a series of letters to her husband concerning her coming to grips with what her high-school son has done. If you haven't read the book or found out more from the write-ups, trailers or articles, I will not spoil it here for you. Eva (Tilda Swinton, Burn After Reading) starts the movie as a blissfully young free spirit traveling the world. In her adventures she meets Franklin (John C. Reilly, Cedar Rapids) and settles down to New York to raise their firstborn son. A constant cryer, Eva worries at first that she is a bad mother. As Kevin grows older (played by Rock Duer as toddler, Jasper Newell as 6 to 8 year old, Ezra Miller as teenager), Eva worries then worries that there is something wrong with her son. As Kevin grows older, he is distant and emotionless to her. When he does show some affection for his mother, she laps up all she can get while it lasts. When the unspeakable happens, Eva loses her family, home, job and savings, and is left with a son that still despises her.

Told in flashes while Eva struggles to deal with her new shambled surroundings and menial job at a travel agency, we see her as the free spirit that feels caged as she deals with the pregnancy with Kevin. She seems disconnected from the entire ordeal. And when toddler Kevin doesn't show her the love that any mother should receive, she wistfully longs for the world traveling days that preceded her marriage and motherhood. As Eva scrubs away the paint that someone spattered across the front porch of the rental she is living in or stands at the copier watching the Xerox makes copies, we return to her past with her Franklin, Kevin, and, eventually, a daughter Celia (Ashley Gerasimovich).

The award shows are touting Tilda Swinton's performance. The nomination is well-deserved. She is both haunted and petrified as she notices and fears for what her son is becoming. While Kevin is the perfect smiling son to father Franklin, Kevin glares at his mother with open disdain. At all times Swinton looks like she is barely containing an emotional breakdown, desperately holding back fears or tears from her predatory son or not naive husband.

But every great hero needs a great villain. The role of Kevin, played by three actors, is the perfect evil foil for Swinton to battle with. Starting with young Rock Duer and a glaring defiant toddler Kevin as Eva unsuccessfully gets him to roll the ball back, to Jasper Newell as the six-year-old whose defiance runs so deep he is content to humiliate his mother by continuing to wear diapers and forcing her to change him, to the teenage Ezra Miller as a Kevin much too interested in the archery equipment his father gave him as a present or in bossing his younger sister around to fetch sodas for him. All three share a piercing, emotionless glare that rivals any deadpan looks from The Omen's Damian.

Even being unfamiliar with the Shriver novel, the way the film is paced and shot clues the audience in early on on the atrocities that Kevin is destined to commit. The imagery is vivid and visceral. As Eva tries to clean the angry red paint from her rental and
 becomes soaked in pale red stains, we can see the 'blood' on her face and hands representing the guilt she feels over what has happened.

We Need to Talk About Kevin has been slated as a suspense horror film. Eerie and a little creepy, the emphasis is more psychological than scary. Kevin is the epithome of a budding sociopath, and every scene drips with his deep calculations to torture his mother and please his father. This film is not for everyone, regardless of the superb performances and surreal cinematic style. But for those who can't get enough suspenseful, artistic quiet thrillers, We Need To Talk About Kevin may speak to you.

WORTH: Matinee or Rental

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