We Need to Talk About Kevin is a film based on the 2003 novel by Lionel Shriver. The novel won the 2005 Orange Prize and the film debuted at The Canne Film Festival.
The story has been adapted and directed by Scottish film director Lynne Ramsay. It is a chilling, disturbing and uncomfortable yet extremely artistic cinematic experience about a mothers struggle to understand, and come to terms with, the actions of her teenage son, Kevin, who committed mass murder at his high school.
I read this book last year and I don’t recall ever reading anthing that stayed with me a long as this story did. This is a truely distrubing topic, and one that has even more standing now after the events that unfolded in Norway earlier this year. The theme of trying to understand such heinous behaviour is beyond most of us and hence its lingering impact.
In the book the narative is told through letters written by ‘Kevin’s’ mother Eva to her husband, Frankliln, concerning their son as she almost forensically takes apart her parenting, marriage, career and selfishness while she questions if she ever loved her son.
In the film this narration is done through the symbolism and directorial techniques to put the viewer into Eva’s memories. It’s almost hypnotic at times you so you find yourself fully immersed in Eva’s and Kevin’s world. The dark subject matter, and overall relationship awkwardness ,can leave you wanting to look away from the screen for a break, but you dont because the story is compelling and flows in a dream like style. The film is also very relient on the actors subtlety, rather than language, as the most powerful exchanges are non verbal creating great intensity on screen.
The casting in this film is absolutely spot on too, John C Reilly plays the ever positive and upbeat Franklin, Tilda Swinton plays Eva going through a huge emotional and mental journey throughout the story. Kevin is played to creepy perfection by young actor Ezra Miller.
This is one of those films that is not for everyone, due to its subject matter, not that there is any fault to it as it is a perfectly executed piece of film making. The characterisations are true to the book and the story is told without sensationalism or violence.
We Need To Talk About Kevin tells a very important story asking questions about evil, nature versus nurture,grief, maternal instinct, mental illness and how society deals with tragedy. This is a film I would highly recommend and you should expect to be talking about Kevin long after the film ends.
If you are in Leicester you can see it at Phoenix Square until 3 November.