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WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN

Director: LYNNE RAMSAY

112 minutes| U.K.-U.S.A.| 2011| Colour| D-Cinema


After Ratcatcher (1999) and Morvern Callar (2002), Lynne Ramsay’s long-awaited new film maintains the enviable quality control in her expressively intoxicating output. Tackling Lionel Shriver’s bestselling first-person novel, Ramsay has somehow remained true to the material yet found her own edgy poetry within it, orchestrating vivid colour and an unsettlingly effective sound-mix to deliver us inside the psyche of traumatised suburban mum Tilda Swinton. We realise the sacrifice she’s made by relinquishing her own prospects for travel and creative fulfilment to start a family, yet her son proves a malign, bristling presence who, it’s soon apparent, has committed an atrocity whose aftershock she confronts every day.

Was this isolated and angry boy simply born evil, or was his very being shaped by her conflicting feelings about motherhood? While a remarkable succession of young performers effectively embody the unlovable Kevin, Swinton’s courageous and sympathetic performance delineates a living hell torn between guilt and defiance. This is pure cinema and a startling achievement. (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)

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