Thursday, 27 October 2011

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN (2011) - 4 STARS

"Mummy's Little Monster"


Apologies for the lack of reviews recently, been rather busy with other important stuff like a possible job at a cinema which could prove crucial in the long run! In the meantime, my return to the flicks came back with a bang by one of the most compelling and controversial films I've seen in a long time with intense performances and a story that shocks and disgusts those who watch it. The ever-reliable Tilda Swinton who grabbed my attention a few years earlier with her villainous turn in the Chronicles of Narnia franchise continues to deliver fascinating performances and gives perhaps her best yet but is almost overshadowed by the young actors playing her disturbed on-screen son, a modern day Damian who shows no incapability of feeling or guilt as he destroys lives and rips the family unit in the film apart with devastating results....


The film focuses on a mother named Eva (Tilda Swinton) who confronts motherhood across three different time periods. In her current predicament, she struggles to move on with her life following the terrible act that her teenage son Kevin (Erza Miller) committed. She is soon forced to reflect on how this twisted world of hers first happened which stretches back to her relationship with humble Franklin (John C. Reilly) that led to her getting pregnant. But straight away, Eva is suffocated by baby Kevin's constant screaming which gets worse as he gets older. He deliberately causes more trouble towards Eva ranging from throwing food everywhere to vandalising her bedroom. Her fears about his behaviour are dismissed by Franklin who believes she is overreacting but once her second child Celia is born, Kevin becomes more unbearable and at times appalling as he reaches manhood. It is only when he commits his horrific crime that Eva's world is completely destroyed and that all she can think about is how this monster came to be.


Female director Lynne Ramsay creates a harrowing and impulsive film that creates great intensity for its audience, splitting the narrative up in various time zones to show us the trials and tribulations that Eva goes through. No matter what age he is, Kevin will always be a vile and disturbed human being. However that's not to say Eva is any better as a mother particularly when she tries to distance herself from him in one dark humoured moment where she stands next to a group of builders drilling to silence his screaming. It is also swiftly edited switching the story to past and present and cleverly using effective close-up shots to make us see just how crazed Kevin is whether it be cutting up pieces of cereal or preparing to use a bow and arrow for malicious use. Of course one of the strong points of the film comes from the flawless acting. Unsurprisingly Swinton commands the screen as a woman who wanted to go places and yet is compromised by her son's arrival and tries too hard to bond with him, and being the only person to realise how malicious he can and will eventually be. How she missed out on an Oscar nomination is anyone's guess. John C. Reilly continues to contribute well with both comedy and drama and his character finds a purpose in being in conflict with his wife, unaware of the manipulation that his son is planting in trying to makes out that his mother hates him. Finally Kevin might just easily be one of the most evil people you'll see in film this year and it is to great credit that the three young actors who play him, do a brilliant and scary job. It is teenage actor Erza Miller who almost steals the film from Swinton though, as his portrayal of Kevin leaves us appalled by his actions, using his splitting stare to show just how deranged he is despite his handsome and sly appearance. A young star in the making!


Having not read Lionel Shriver's book, I wasn't too aware of how different it would be to the film but those dedicated fans of the book may be left disappointed by missing parts which prove significant in showing more about the character's nature especially Kevin. The subject matter is very hard and that becomes apparent in certain scenes throughout the film but it shouldn't take away the horror of what we see before us and many others will probably disagree with that. By the end, you can't help but feel underwhelmed that Kevin doesn't get his comeuppance properly, after all the hurt he causes throughout but obviously that is down to the writers who felt that they wanted to focus more on how Eva would cope with his crime and what she will do now.

VERDICT: Gripping and haunting, this successful transition to the big-screen is nightmarish to all mothers who don't bond with their children properly and will leave you shocked for days. If you thought Damien and Stewie Griffin were evil kids, you ain't seen nothing yet....

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