Home > Film & stuff > ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ Musings, Upcoming Top 10 Films of 2011, & ShortCuts Podcast #3!

‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ Musings, Upcoming Top 10 Films of 2011, & ShortCuts Podcast #3!

We Need to Talk About Kevin is grim. It’s also great– truly great. Please, don’t let the grim factor scare you away.

Kevin does an excellent job of defying categorization. It could be described as a paranoid suspense thriller, a dark and dramatic look at domestic life, or even an honest examination of how some parents feel about their children. As many of the best films do, Kevin keeps you guessing from beginning to end, refusing to be cornered.

The director and co-screenwriter, Lynne Ramsay, chooses to tell the story of Kevin and his mother, Eva (Tilda Swinton), through a series of flashbacks, cutting between Eva’s sad and hopeless present with her sad and hopeless past. Her present is lonely, but her past is populated by her easygoing husband (played by John C. Reilly) and Kevin (played chillingly by Ezra Miller as a teenager and Jasper Newell as a younger boy). Eva does manage to have one ray of sunshine in her life when she has a daughter, who, luckily, is the polar opposite of her son. Kevin is a contentious, petty child with a knack for constantly belittling and torturing his mother. To make matters worse, her plucky husband sees their young boy as a normal kid who occasionally misbehaves. What’s a mommy to do?

Michael Fassbender impressed me late last year with his performance in Shame and I hadn’t seen anyone else come close to his talents. Apparently, all I needed to do was wait and see Swinton. It’s a good thing these two aren’t competing with one another for awards because I would be at a loss when choosing a favorite. Swinton has always impressed me, particularly with her performance in Michael Clayton, but this is one of the finest roles I’ve ever seen anyone play. Eva is a broken woman. Her dreams of a metropolitan life of travel and culture were dashed as soon as her husband knocked her up, leading them both to suburban blandness. Her face looks perpetually tired, especially when trying to simply convince her young son to say “mama” or play a game. But the real horrors don’t come until after puberty…

The subject matter in We Need to Talk About Kevin is difficult and many people will find it far too disturbing to enjoy. Leonard Maltin’s brief review is borderline hysterical. He claims he was barely able to sit through the film and he can’t imagine Ramsay’s attraction to the subject matter. Well, he’s a parent, so watching what unfolds in Kevin would carry some serious weight with him, I suppose. But this movie should not be ignored due to its dark nature. No one wants to think children are capable of evil or that mothers are capable of hatred for their offspring. The hard truth is that some parents do not instantly bond with their kids at birth, but instead resent them, and some kids out there are just born rotten. We Need to Talk About Kevin confronts these issues head on with gorgeous photography, a compelling story, and the highest caliber of acting. It’s utterly engrossing and one of the best movies of 2011. Speaking of…

  • Oscar announcements are coming on Tuesday, January 24th! With the announcement of nominees, I will have my own list of the ten best pictures of 2011, along with a list from my friend and podcast partner, Devin Marble. I guarantee my picks will be diverse and interesting… I make no guarantees about Devin’s.
  • Also, our latest podcast episode of ShortCuts with special guest Sharon Nixon-Kelley (Devin’s manager) will be up and running as of Monday, January 23rd at noon PST. Please drop by ShortCutsLA.com and click on our podcast index to check out the latest and previous episodes. If you dig what we do, give us a “Like” on Facebook or send out a tweet.

Thanks for coming by. As always leave a comment here or at shortcomments@gmail.com.

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  1. January 23, 2012 at 5:07 am

    We Need to Talk About Kevin was probably my favourite film of 2011. I still haven’t seen Shame but if you’re grouping the quality of his performance together with Swintons it must be amazing.

    • shortcutsla
      January 23, 2012 at 11:31 am

      They’re both incredibly deserving of any accolades they receive. I’ve yet to make my decision, but Kevin may end up being may favorite of 2011 as well.

  1. January 24, 2012 at 9:48 am
  2. January 26, 2012 at 12:12 am

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