"“It certainly lives up to all of the excitement surrounding it, as one of the more defining features of the year…”"
Despite oddly starting with a crowd of people appearing to be swimming in what looks like gallons of chopped tomatoes, We Need to Talk about Kevin certainly lives up to all of the excitement surrounding it, as one of the more defining features of the year.
Based on the popular novel by Lionel Shriver, Lynne Ramsay’s adaptation is a poignant and affecting film about the relationship between a mother and her child, and the latter’s escalation into becoming an incredibly violent young adult.
Eva (Tilda Swinton) is a struggling mother, attempting to her raise troubled child Kevin (Ezra Miller), who although appearing to others as a seemingly ordinary teenager – even to his father Franklin (John C. Reilly), is vindictive and malevolent, and a burden upon his mother’s life.
As the story pieces itself together, we learn that Kevin was the perpetrator of a high-school killing spree. The film begins by presenting Eva in the modern day as she attempts to deal with the grief and anguish caused by her son’s imprisonment, becoming an outcast amongst her society, dealing with revulsion from her neighbours.
However, we witness various flashbacks throughout Kevin’s life, portraying their own relationship and family life from when Kevin was a baby, through childhood, leading up towards his sadistic crime.
It’s a remarkably enticing tale, the American high-school execution plot is one we’ve all seen before, but where this feature stands alone is by telling the story from the mother’s perspective rather than that of the criminal as we are used too.
Therefore, it is imperative that Swinton shines as the lead role, an emotionally drained victim of this horrible crime, and she is simply astounding. She has a vulnerability to her, allowing for the audience to feel incredibly repentant towards her state of affairs, yet managing to play the part with a potency that doesn’t make her character seem as though she is simply moping around and feeling sorry for herself.
As mentioned above regarding the chopped tomatoes, the colour red plays a very prominent role within the film. It’s a very emotive colour, portraying various sensations such as desire, danger and passion, and it is used throughout to help shape such emotions.
Eva’s house and car are both sodden in red paint thanks to local vandals, and when she hides from a victim’s mother in the supermarket; she appears in front of rows of tomato soup, amongst various other examples. Yet the most effective use of the colour red comes when she is cleaning the red paint off her hands. This moment symbolises her predicament, as a representation of her wishing to clean herself of her past and her misery. A powerful image as it almost symbolises that of blood – bearing a likeness to that of the infamous scene in Macbeth, where Lady Macbeth also washes her hands of what she believes to be blood.
The soundtrack was also a wonderful compliment to the feature, conflicting to the mournful nature of the film, with songs by artists such as The Beach Boys, and an excellent scene featuring ‘Everyday’ by Buddy Holly in its entirety.
It does take a while to piece the story together, but rewarding for the viewer when done so. This a film that has had much hype surrounding it this year, featuring at a variety of film festivals across the world – and now, at long last, it’s come to London for the festival, and it’s even better than I had first envisaged it to be.