Illustration: Adeline Pericart
We laughed, we cried, we sneaked in our own popcorn. 2011 brought with it some memorable trips to the cinema to revel in the joy of film. And so the Film Ireland collection of filmbots look back in love and recall their favourite films of the last year in the latest installment of…
We Need to Talk About Kevin
‘… a visually intense trip into a parental nightmare …’
Cinema has provided audiences with some memorable child-monsters over the years (from Linda Blair’s possessed Regan in The Exorcist to the straight-forwardly Satanic Damien in The Omen) but few have got under the skin quite as insidiously as the character alluded to in the title of Lynne Ramsay’s superb, long-awaited follow-up to 2002’s Morvern Callar. Played with brilliantly creepy relish at different ages by Rocky Duer, Jasper Newell and Ezra Miller, Kevin is the stuff of every parent’s nightmare. The personification of all of his mother’s fear, guilt and anxiety about motherhood, Kevin’s arrival signals the abrupt end of a once carefree life for Eva (Tilda Swinton) – and the film subsequently deals with the story of Kevin’s youthful progress towards a catastrophically violent incident at his high-school that has devastating, and fatal, repercussions for everyone around him. The film’s complex flashback structure is skilfully handled by Ramsey, deviating from the diary form of Lionel Shriver’s original novel to concentrate on Kevin’s warped, psycho-sexual duelling with his mother, played out in some remarkable and, sometimes, uncomfortable scenes.
Lynne Ramsay’s film is a visually intense trip into a parental nightmare. Extreme close-up shots reveal tiny details rich with psychological significance, such as a scene in which Eva absent-mindedly scraping red paint off the ends of her hair with her nails. With great visual imagination, Ramsay liberally applies splashes of symbolic red to the films canvas, intensifying the already heady brew of guilt, frustration and anger which bubbles under the surface of Eva’s superficially perfect, middle-class life. Tilda Swinton is as subtly fascinating as always as Eva, and the glowering Ezra Miller in particular deserves huge credit for a performance of sinister, tightly-coiled menace as the demonic Kevin. Well worth the wait of almost a decade since her last film, We Need to Talk About Kevin establishes Lynne Ramsay as one of modern cinema’s most creatively daring and visionary filmmakers.