Give Tilda Swinton an Oscar. Now. Few actors truly deserve the accolade yet what Swinton has delivered is exactly that, the year’s most outstanding performance under Lynne Ramsay’s scorching direction. That too is an easy adjective but one that so accurately depicts the Scottish director’s third feature; the kind that will leave you distressed, disturbed and in need of a long, comforting shower. It’s also a film that mounts a furious case for birth control, and possibly euthanasia.

Eva (Swinton) is the recently widowed mother of a mass murderer. That’s Kevin (Ezra Miller), a brooding, manipulative child who turns into a manipulative, lethal teenager in the course of two shocking hours. You can’t underestimate the power of this film nor its capacity to upset despite the worst moments of brutality and carnage occurring off-screen (shlock-horror directors take note: this is how you make a truly frightening film). What we do see is a shell-shocked mother wondering what she’s done that her son would hate her so much. Is this monstrous child a product of nature or nurture? And why could her husband never see what was going on? His moment of late realisation will be despairingly ironic, and generated by his own hand.

Ramsay’s adaptation captures the fearsome intent of Lionel Shriver’s best-selling novel while turning it into something utterly unique. From the start, a surreal opener in which Eva dreams of sinking into a pond of blood-red tomato paste at Tomatina, We Need To Talk About Kevin is special. As their relationship evolves through toilet-training to (quite literally) a nail-biting standoff, Ramsay seduces with a thrilling visual and aural display: a little indie, a little avant-garde, thoroughly mesmerising. And in the middle of this onslaught is the utterly compelling Swinton. So brilliantly measured is her performance that the slightest twitch conveys the deep pain of a woman certain of impending doom caught completely unaware by the savagery she has wrought upon the world. Painful doesn't begin to describe it.

Fresh from Cannes (Ramsay was nominated for the Palme D’Or), We Need To Talk About Kevin is a brilliant, challenging, often disturbing, always distressing and unmissable milestone. If all filmmakers were half this good.

moviereview colin fraser film movie australia review critic flicks


Tilda Swinton
John C. Reilly
Ezra Miller
Jasper Newell

Lynne Ramsay

Lynne Ramsay
Rory Kinnear


MA / 112 minutes

November 17, 2011
Lorem ipsum dolor sit
Stacks Image 139
moviereview colin fraser film movie australia review critic flicks