We Need To Talk About Kevin - Blu-ray Review

'the tone is formed in the opening half hour, a cacophony of industrial noise and loose-fitting imagery... an unsettling mess of seemingly innocent devices, conspiring against both Eva and the viewer's sensory array'

There's one thing in We Need To Talk About Kevin, the film which birthed a hundred awful headlines, which we do need to talk about upfront and that's just quite how disturbing the whole thing is. Even if you know the subject matter of the film - and it's infinitely better if you don't - it won't prepare you for quite how gut-punching and unsettling Lynne Ramsay's film can be. In some ways similar to The Woman In Black, the censors can have had little option but to give this a 15 certificate - like that film you see very little - but the tone and the subject matter are what creeps up on you, ready to smother you with a pillow. If The Woman In Black was as close as a 12A gets to a 15, this is the 15 certificate's audition for an 18.

The start of that tone is formed in the opening half hour, a cacophony of industrial noise and loose-fitting imagery; Eva (Tilda Swinton) cleaning red paint from her house (one of a handful of moments of too-obvious imagery), kitchen appliances, a rickety car - it's an unsettling mess of seemingly innocent devices, conspiring against both Eva and the viewer's sensory array.

Another thing we need to talk about is Ramsay's non-linear structure. The problem with such things is that, usually, they work for half of the time and then get abandoned when the director realises that a story needs to be told. The same is kind of true here - Kevin leans more towards the chronological as it gets into the final third - but unlike other films, Ramsay gets away with it. There's never the sense that Kevin bottles out of being non-linear, and the sense of distance and unease the structure gives you is in tune with the film's subject and aims. It's a perfect blend, one Ramsay should be credited with.

The elements that don't work include the brave but miss-guided casting of John C. Reilly, who tries gamely but is, ultimately, too much of a comic presence to pull off this dramatic a role. The arguments that he does quite well actually, flounder when you start to consider alternatives; almost anyone of a similar stature would have done a better job, he's just too difficult to buy as a non-comic Father figure. The younger versions of Kevin (Rock Duer and Jasper Newell) I actually think do better than the sometime-praised Ezra Miller (Teenage Kevin), who starts to step into stereotype, possibly because he is only allowed range come the final moments.

Those problems aside, this is undoubtedly a powerful film, with brave direction from Ramsay that deserves notice and a flawless lead from Tilda Swinton which deserves some more. The depth of subject matter, theme and artistic risk is significant and varied and nearly all of the many gambles pay off. Destined to be required reading on future film studies courses.




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'We Need to Talk About Kevin feels a bit confused to me. It's as if there is a static feed underlying the film all the way through, as questions and answers never meet one another.' The Movie Snob, B-

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