We Need To Talk About Kevin, the award winning and critically acclaimed adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s novel directed by Lynne Ramsay and starring Tilda Swinton in an Oscar worthy performance, is a hard-going near-two hours in the cinema for all that.
The misery is relentless as Swinton tries to fathom how her teenage son could grow up to commit a massacre at his high school. This isn’t a spoiler – the carnage is soon evident in a film that abounds in too many flashbacks.
I’ve only caught up with the film today although it’s been on release a couple of weeks. It doesn’t seem to have been getting much marketing support in the multiplexes. I had to hunt it down.
If the movie’s backers were counting on word of mouth to boost box office receipts, I could understand why they might be disappointed.
For all its strengths – once again Tilda Swinton gives a master class in movie acting – I can’t bring myself to recommend that you rush out and see the film for yourself. No more than I would suggest you stick your head in bucket and bang it with a stick for the same duration.
Shriver says he’s delighted with the movie. But in the novel the nature versus nurture debate is examined more subtly with the possibility the unreliable narrator Eva, the Swinton character, may in part be responsible for Kevin’s development.
I didn’t see much of this in the film. For Kevin read Damien; he seems to have been born evil. Eva’s decision not to leave town after the massacre is positively masochistic given Kevin is the bad seed from the moment he first poops his diapers.