A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Sunday, 23 October 2011

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Yesterday we went to see the new film by Lynne Ramsay, We Need To Talk About Kevin, at Nottingham's Broadway Cinema. Any film with Tilda Swinton in it is a memorable event for me - I think she's one of our finest screen performers. I'm not crazy about those self-conscious, self-promoting, dumb blonde, Big Hollywood Stars; give me intelligent, offbeat, left-field actresses any day, women like Vanessa Redgrave, Sissy Spacek, Nastassja Kinski or Hanna Schygulla.

Swinton plays Eva, the tortured mother of horror-child Kevin. Kevin starts out bad, and becomes, well, evil is probably not strong enough a word. Is the mother to blame, at least in part, for Kevin turning into a sociopath who kills his father, sister and many of his schoolmates with a bow and arrow? Or was he just born like that, some depraved Robin Hood of our twisted times? The film doesn't really resolve this, and the nature/nurture debate is left hanging - as it must be, for these are hugely difficult, complex and contentious issues.

It's a brilliant movie, and Swinton's performance is breathtakingly good - so taut and nervy you feel your own nerve ends jangling throughout - but it's also extremely shocking and disturbing, so don't go see it if you want a mindless, relaxed evening. The story is propelled largely in images - and many of these images are, significantly, blood-red. (You'll never forget that early scene at the Spanish tomato festival.) The film uses a fragmented, impressionistic technique of flashbacks and flashforwards which perfectly mirrors the state of Eva's mind. And the filmic soundscape of pneumatic drills, lawn sprinklers, water gurgling up from blocked sinks, fingernails scraping on glass and Country and Western music (which ironically counterpoints, and objectifies, the suburban horror) is cleverly conceived.


Rachel Fox said...

I read the novel a few years back - it is an excellent piece of work. Good to hear the film isn't going to let the side down.

George said...

I recently saw a trailer on this film and it looked quite interesting. Like you, I'm always interesting in seeing the artistry of Tilda Swinton. Loved her performance last year in "I am Love.'

By "the way," have you seen "The Way," the new film about the camino by actors Martin Sheen and his son, Emilio Estevez? While the film was released in Toronto last year, it wasn't released in the U.S. until last week.

While "The Way" is more of a Hollywood production (everyone is well-coiffed and there are few nuances), I think you would enjoy it nonetheless because (1) there is some beautiful film footage of the Camino Frances, and (2) the story involves the way in which four solitaries on the camino rediscover themselves while discovering each other.

The Solitary Walker said...

The film's well worth seeing, Rachel - a creative adaptation, which apparently has stunned and mightily pleased the author of the original bestselling book, Lionel Shriver...

Geprge - I haven't yet seen 'The Way' - to be honest, some of the reviews put me off - but I think I really must see it. Perhaps when it comes out on DVD - which is soon over here, I believe.

Tilda Swinton is just fantastic!

jan said...

One of my favourite books. I was worried about seeing the film but now you've reviewed it I feel so much better. Will be off to see it this week. Thank you.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, Jan, for your comment.

Ruth said...

I probably won't see this, only because I have difficulty with the disturbing part of it, not out of any moralistic reasons. it does sound very good and reminds me of the film I was impressed with years ago with her called "The Deep End" about a son who possibly committed murder. She is absolutely mesmerizing.

Another fine actress I enjoyed last evening for the first time is Sandrine Bonnaire. If you haven't seen "Queen to Play" with her and Kevin Klein, it is wonderful. French, called "Joueuse" from 2009.

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, Ruth, i agree - Swinton is extraordinary.

You have intrigued me about Sandrine Bonnaire; I must check out that film.