From the constant chauffer driving, errand running exhausting days, they also have to deal with sibling bickering, temper trantrums, and in the teenage yeas open hostility toward them, yet ask nothing in return.
With the potential to screw up someone’s life at an early age (and who amongst us haven’t been screwed up in some way, big or small, from our parents), what happens to these parents when the unthinkable happens and their kid does something so horrendous the entire community blames them?
The issues of how to raise a kid, how to love a kid, and especially how to handle a kid that gives you nothing but pain has been a tried and tested formula in films, but I think nothing compares to handling these issues head on as We Need To Talk About Kevin.
Based on the popular novel by Lionel Shriver, We Need To Talk About Kevin looks at the life of Eva (Tilda Swinton), which has crumbled away after her son Kevin (played in his teenage years by the unbelievable Ezra Miller) did an act so unthinkable, she does not know where to turn.
Going through her life, we see the constant battle her and Kevin undertook as he grew up, as he constantly pushed her to the edge, as she tries to piece together how he could have done something so unthinkable.
From the get go, this was always going to be a hard film to get done right. The original novel is mainly told through letters to her distant husband, and mainly looks back at their life, so it has an unique kind of voice that would be hard to replicate in a film.
However director Lynne Ramsey finds a way to make this story filmable, avoiding the whole letter writing idea, and focuses instead on the flashbacks, which is done perfectly.
Jumping from the present where Eva is having to survive, and looking back at the past where her life was complicated, but a lot better than it is now, uses a great comparison.
Visually it works best, as the flashbacks are a lot brighter, yet at stages is a lot darker as well. In either case there is no doubt it is a lot more vivid than the other scenes.
The present uses the visuals to show the state of Eva’s world, particularly as the colours don’t shine, and it comes across a lot blander than the flashbacks, with the exception of the use of red, as it is a constant theme throughout the present scenes, and gives the scenes a visual pop, with a lot of red appearing in otherwise bland scenes.
This works in two ways, as it is usually easy to see the difference between the flashbacks and present time (and as majority of the scenes have only a gap of two years, it would have been hard to diferentiate), but it also tells the story of Eva’s life, mainly despite being better or worse, her past was a lot more vivid than the run-down, plain modern life she lives now.
The film works visually, but it would have fallen flat if the performances were not up to standard, being a character driven film. Luckily two of the best performances we have seen in some time appear in We Need To Talk About Kevin.
Firstly the main role of Eva gets the full-star treatment of Tilda Swinton, who gives probably one of her best roles so far (even better than her Michael Clayton performance).
The acting role depended on someone who did not portray a lot of emotion through a subtle performance, not through the script, and Swinton does to a tee. Coming across as a mother who has seen the worst that the world can offer, she is reserved, resigned to pain, and above all understand that life will not get much better in any way shape or form, but gets through life with as much quiet dignity as she can muster.
However, surprisingly Swinton is not the best performer in the film, as that accolade goes to Ezra Miller with the role of teenage Kevin.
Having to portray an teenager who is scheming, manipulative and, for lack of a better word, a little bit evil, Miller takes a major swing for his first big role, and hits for the fences. He essentially takes on the role with ease, as his scenes with Swinton are pepper with tension, as both face off in a number of times, and give an unbelievable role as two actors in possibly their best performances square off against each other.
We Need To Talk About Kevin is in no way a happy film. It is bleak depressing, and while it does not have the unbelievable third act surprise that the book delivers, it gets close to pulling it off. Looking into the idea of nature vs nuture, and what it takes to be a good parent, even with the thought when your child is someone you don’t like, it takes on a hard role and delivers it with a punch.
If you loved the book, you’ll be impressed how it transforms on the big screen. If you are going into We Need To Talk About Kevin fresh, you’ll be presented a story that is gripping from start to finish, with a ending that will blow you away.
Rating: 4 1/2 Reels