Readers Recommendations: “We Need to Talk About Kevin”

we_need_to_talk_about_kevin_posterHey everyone, it’s Friday, time for another entry in the Reader Recommendations series!

The Reader Recommendation series is intended to help me formally pursue all the great films that commenters bring up each week in discussion which I’ve never seen. If there’s a movie that comes up that I haven’t seen, but you think I should, email me @ or let me know in the comments that you’d like to participate!
ClaratsiThis time up, our movie recommendation comes from Kevin Clare over at Claratsi’s Movie Review, who’s suggested 2011’s “We Need to Talk About Kevin”.
“We Need to Talk About Kevin” was making the rounds when I first began blogging, but being a limited release film, I never got to it. Still, I’ve heard good thing and have been curious to see it. I was glad Kevin recommended it!
Click through to see what we had to say!

My questions in bold. Kevin’s answers below!

1) Do you remember when you first saw the movie?
I watched it on Sky Movies, one of those mid-week sit downs, not really planned just heard decent things about it and knew it was based on a book. Often those impromptu watches turn out to be very rewarding!
2)Why do you think that it’s recommendable? What do you like about it?

As a study of the isolation of what is essentially single parenting (the husband is annoyingly oblivious) it is so sad, frustrating and compelling. You really go through the mill with Swinton’s mom and it’s every bit a mystery as to why when there is seemingly no rhyme or reason for the son’s behavior.

3) Is the movie underappreciated, do you think? Or does pop culture have it fairly rated?

I think it has a well liked standing among those who HAVE seen it, there is so much to like about it, whether it is totally loyal to the book I don’t know, but I think it is regarded as good an adaptation as is possible. don’t think it really registered on the pop culture radar as it’s far from mainstream film making.

4) Is there any particular reason you thought I should watch it, or were you just surprised I hadn’t seen it?

I thought you had seen everything! It’s sad, uncomfortable and compelling and Swinton’s performance is heartbreaking and frustrating in equal measure as she continues to love her son unconditionally; posing the question of how far can parental love be stretched!?

5) Have you written about the movie yourself? (Insert plug here! LOL )

Yeh, I wrote a review sometime ago now you can view it here for more on my thoughts.

Thanks Kevin! My Review is below!

Right from the opening moments, I could tell this would be an interesting film. A shot of a curtain billowing in a dark room cuts sharply to an overhead view of a chaotic crowd indulging in some sort of festival. The horde of people smear each other with red paint? Juice? Tilda Swinton’s character awakes in the morning to find her house and car have been splattered with red paint. She interviews for what is obviously a miserable job, and seems extremely grateful to get it. Shortly thereafter, she gets punched in the face by woman who seems to be a stranger.

It’s revealed relatively quickly that her son, Kevin (Ezra Miller) was responsible for an act of violence at his school.

Clearly, she has emotional issues now, post-incident, but it’s her emotional state as she raised her child that’s drawn into question. Through flashbacks, we’re shown her pregnancy with her son, the delivery, and the difficulty she had nurturing him as an infant. She wasn’t of a mindset to be a mother in the first place, and had difficulty being affectionate to him as an a newborn. As he grew, we’re shown that he developed into a little psychopath at an early age. He acted hostilely towards his mother, and defied her at every turn. When his father (John C Reilly) was around, however, he would act like a little angel, which isolated her even further. He would frequently act out destructively as he got older and after responding once with violence, she began to distance herself from him altogether.

Throughout it all there was a lack of emotional connection, and a complete failure to communicate… between her and her son, her and her husband, her and everyone.

“We Need to Talk About Kevin” at times feels like a horror movie. Due to the flashback construction, there’s a sense of fatal inevitability to the proceedings. And the present tense (post tragedy) is frightening as well. Neighbors are constantly staring. Swinton’s character carries a vacant expression as she sleepwalks through her life. Normal objects are highlighted as disturbing images, as we’re left to see things through her damaged, distorted perception. 

This film was artfully directed by Lynne Ramsay. At times, it ventures into art house territory, but the story and characters are so compelling that none of it feels self-indulgent. The visual style helps support a tense story and first-rate performances.

“We Need to Talk About Kevin” is a haunting film that delves into a disturbing phenomena at this point in America, and presents no clear or easy answers. It leaves you instead with plenty of food for thought. It’s a well crafted, challenging film that provides a gripping watch.


Daniel Fogarty

51 thoughts on “Readers Recommendations: “We Need to Talk About Kevin”

  1. A good movie that at times was very difficult to watch. Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller were both fantastic but John C. Reilly was a bad casting choice to me. He seemed totally out of place in this movie.

    • Uhmmmm… I was ok with him, Derek, I thought he did alright. I guess I can see where you’re coming from. He is mostly known for his comedic roles.

      I certainly didnt think he did a bad job or anything though. 😦

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