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We Need To Talk About Kevin | The Clapper Bored

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Movies about kids who randomly murder scores of their classmates are like buses. You wait forever and then two come along at once. In this case it’s Beautiful Boy, aka the school shooter film that nobody saw, and We Need To Talk About Kevin, the film that everyone’s seeing and/or talking about. The reason that everyone’s going to see Kevin, not that I’m one of the 16 people who saw Beautiful Boy, is partly the effect of its bestselling novel source material and party because of the fact that it’s pretty excellent.

To start it’s a bit of an enigma. The decision about whether to open with the fact it’s set in the aftermath of a high school shooting obviously posed them some difficulties and the first fifteen minutes are slightly fragmented as they skirt round this basic plot point. But once it gets going and the non-linear narrative kicks in (short hair=old, long hair=now) the film really puts its boots on and the chills will set in. Yes, Ramsay is a little heavy handed with the symbolism (once you know that the film is covered with red you’ll look for red everywhere (and it is literally everywhere)) but the visual style is well balanced and not as cold as it might otherwise have been.

The performances are universally excellent. All three Kevins scared the shit out of me, and the performance of the younger (4 or 5 year old) Kevin is the most terrifying child performance since Damien. John C Reilly takes his break from stupid Will Ferrell movies to mix just enough obstinacy into the role of ‘sympathetic father’. But really this is Tilda Swinton’s film. I’m not someone who finds Tilda Swinton a comfortable on screen presence but, for once, that’s exactly what the film needs; someone who makes you feel as on edge as the noise of a razor scraping a window (thank you sound designer).

A few brave people laughed during the screening but rest assured that everyone leaving the cinema was very anxiously re-analysing their childhood. It’s haunting power might leave a lot of people feeling like this isn’t escapism but moral entrapment, but the film will certainly linger with you for a good while. If Paranormal Activity 3 is as nerve shreddingly scary as this then I’ll eat Ezra Miller’s hat (the damn hipster).

The most impactful film of the year. Devastating and harrowing but made with all the respect that the stories needed.

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4.5
Title: We Need To Talk About Kevin
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Starring: Tilda Swinton, John C Reilly, Ezra Miller, people on gurneys.
Certificate: 15
Running Time: Maybe 2 hours (?)

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