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.