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We Need To Talk About Kevin (DVD)
Member Name: cazkins
We Need To Talk About Kevin (DVD)
Advantages: Interesting characters, psychological undertones, realistic & believable atmosphere
Disadvantages: A little 'dull' and depressive perhaps
We Need To Talk About Kevin was directed by Lynne Ramsay, who has worked on a couple of pieces but nothing I recognise. It's based on a novel by Lionel Shriver that sold millions of copies, and I would imagine the sales were further helped by the film adaptation. The flick basically falls in to an 'emotional thriller' category with a hint of psychological underpinnings. We're introduced to Eva Khatchadourian (Tilda Swinton) and her husband Franklin (John C. Reilly), who seem to be happy enough together. Eva puts aside her career dreams to become a mother when she falls pregnant with a baby boy, who was to be named Kevin. From here on out, things start to go downhill.
A rather sullen and withdrawn baby, Kevin doesn't tend to react to his mother. As a toddler he seems to ignore her or become unpleasant, but he seems to be far better behaved and responsive towards his father. This obviously doesn't do much for Eva in terms of her feeling like a successful mum; she becomes worn down, depressed and desperate to make a breakthrough with her son. As time goes on, his behaviour becomes more unmanageable and Eva has an inclination that her son is deliberately acting this way despite her best efforts. It appears that only she can see this side of Kevin when he's otherwise okay towards Franklin.
Without giving too much away, there's another addition to the family when Kevin is a few years older, a little baby girl (played later by Ashley Gerasimovich). She and her mother get on great, but Kevin is still shunning Eva and perhaps suffering from jealousy of the newest arrival. That doesn't seem so uncommon; sibling rivalry isn't anything new after all. What is odd are the actual behaviours that Kevin displays from such a young age, even down to his unresponsiveness as a baby.
Things go from bad to worse when Kevin gets out of hand, becoming more dangerous than sulky. Again, it seems his intentions and cruelty are only visible by Eva, and this inevitably causes problems between her and her husband. How could she, a loving and caring woman, think her only son is evil? Surely he's just a normal kid, playing out in the garden with his dad and going to school and playing with his little sister...
What I really liked about this film was its sense of poignancy; the premise and the evil underlying Kevin's behaviour shone through as being dramatic but not overstated, malicious but not unrealistic. You do wonder how such 'evil' could happen, how others were blind to this side of Kevin, and yet the way the film gradually takes us through the life of this family makes it more understandable; I found I could empathise with Eva and her emotional strain between feeling angry and feeling guilty, between wanting nothing to do with her son but feeling ultimately responsible.
The film didn't have too much 'Hollywood Appeal'. Granted, some of the cast (ie Swinton and Reilly) were well-known, but it felt like an understated film. There wasn't any glitz and glamour and that helped to keep it down to earth, gritty and far more realistic. There were many quieter moments without any action which some may find tedious but I actually thought this helped to build up an atmosphere and to provide some background and reasoning behind the characters and their motivations. This again enabled it to be more emotive and, possibly because of my love for Psychology, more gripping, because I wanted to understand more about why Kevin did the things he did.
The story isn't told straight off from start to finish but it is gradually built up and I found it easy to keep up with who's who and what was going on. It didn't confuse me at any point but then again it wasn't a complex film; it was easy enough to watch but it still felt intelligent because of a strong cast, script and direction. The film had an overall sense of being somewhat dark and perhaps 'dull' is what some may say, but I'd argue that this just reflected the tone and nature of the content. The ending was so-so, but that couldn't have really changed anyway as this was based on the book; I'm one for explanations and reasons and the psychology behind so-called 'evil', so I would have like a little more coverage on Kevin at the end. I still liked the ending, but I thought it could have been stronger and tied the film up a tad better perhaps.
The cast was reasonably strong and Swinton did a fantastic job as Eva, portraying emotion well enough for me to be able to empathise and feel for her and the situation she was in. Other cast members included the age-related roles of Kevin, so Kevin as a toddler (Rock Duer), 6-8 years (Jasper Newell) and a teen (Ezra Miller). As a teen in particular, I thought Miller did a good job of being a bit creepy, sly and unhinged yet still appearing to his father as being a 'regular' kid. This again made it seem more realistic and easier to watch.
Overall I would recommend this even just because it caused an emotional response. I'm knocking a star off for its somewhat dull appearance at times and this won't be everyone's cuppa tea, but I thought it did the story justice by providing a strong cast, script and atmosphere.
Running time 112 minutes, rated Certificate 15.
DVD released 2012, Selling on Amazon for £9.97.
Summary: One I enjoyed and found to be good quality in terms of cast & direction, but not everyone's cuppa.