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We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

'We need to talk about Kevin' is one of those films that sits on a list (like so many of us have) of "Oh, I need to watch that", but then we never get around to it. With countless films slowly making their way onto that list, it's ever-increasing length has encouraged me to start getting on top of it. Although, I have only ever heard great things about this film, it has a dark aura surrounding it that I've never found myself in a position to want to experience such bleak subject matter. But I guess now is a good a time as any to tick this one off the list.


The direction and cinematography is very stylised. And whist having that raw and gritty indie movie element at its forefront, it's clear that director Lynne Ramsey has taken great inspiration from directors such as, the Cohen brothers and even Wes Anderson. Pair this with a great score and this film makes for one fantastic experience. The score and soundtrack is outstanding. It's a very different tone to what you would imagine, especially considering the context and dark subject handled within this confides of this film. However, the jarring juxtaposition between the seemingly light-hearted score and the dark elements of the film only seem to oddly enhance one and another to much greater heights. Another contrasting technique similar to something you would also find in a Cohen brothers movie. As limited as my knowledge is about Ramsey as a director, I will be sure to be checking out more of her movies in the future.


One thing that I think will deter a lot of viewers away from this film, is the way in which the narrative unfolds. Starting of with what will ultimately be the closing scene of the film and slowly drip feeding the audience moments from the past which lead to the present situation of our characters. This is usually a story device that I find rather annoying and can cause a film like this to become rather predictable. However, for some reason I found myself really invested in they way this storytelling technique was handled and it seemed to really enhance my curiosity. The subtlety in which this complex character study unfolds is done in a creative way that with every flash back scene we see, it changes your perception of how you imagine the overall story to unfold. And although we know this take a drastic turn for these central character, it's not until the very last gut punching scenes that we finally learn the true horror of what lead them there.


Tilde Swinton takes center stage in this productions as title character Kevin's mum, Eva. And, although I've always been a big fan of her work, nothing quite prepared me for the powerhouse performances she gives in this movie. Taking us as an audience along on a rollercoaster of emotions as she tries to navigate her life around the situation she has found herself in. Every single characters interaction or traumatising moment she is involved in throughout this film, I felt it as though I was there in the room with her and that is testament to the capabilities she has as an actress. One thing I did have reservations about was, given the dramatic nature of this film, was around the casting of John C Riley. As someone who has profoundly built his career in comedic roles I was unsure I would be able to see past the typecasting that surrounds him as an actor. It's safe to say he soon put these issues to rest and deserves just as much recognition for his role here as the rest of the cast around him.


As I mentioned earlier 'We need to talk about Kevin' does bounce back and forth between timeliness, and whilst hair and makeup can relinquish any issues there may be for the aging of adolescent characters, there are multiple iterations of the character of Kevin at various stages of his childhood that are not so easily masked with effects. This calls for multiple castings of the shame character and we see a total of three different versions of Kevin played by three different actors. The youngest actor, Rock Duer, plays Kevin as an infant and has the most limitedof screen time. However, it is the second actor we see playing Kevin from the ages of about 5 upwards who blew me away. Jasper Newell is the young talent who takes on this age range and his performance is outstanding, for a child to showcase the eerie and outright uncomfortable nature of his performance truly blew me away. And finally, it is Ezra Miller who takes on the final adolescent and most disturbed version of the Kevin character. Miller is an actor who I find to have a very wide range when it comes to his roles and more often than not I find him to be more than competent enough with every role he takes on, here is no different. Just like Swinton, Millers performance in this film is one that I will remember for a long time to come.


It's difficult to dive into plot points about this, without treading into spoiler territory and not only that but I certainly think the best way to experience this film is to go in blind. I was not prepared for the whirlwind of emotions I endured throughout the course of this films runtime and the heart wrenching reveal in the closing act almost floored me. If like me 'We need to talk about Kevin' is a film that has been on your radar for some time and you are yet to watch it, I recommend rectifying that immediately. I can't understand why this isn't talked about more. Filled with powerhouse performances, flawless direction and a perfect score to boot, this really took me by suprise and is now part of a small group of films that will stay at the back of my mind for many years to come.


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