If I thought the Academy Awards were a shambles before watching We Need to Talk About Kevin; I am certain they are now. Apart from all of the usual predictability, bias and preferential treatment, the fact that We Need to Talk About Kevin was not nominated for one single award is simply baffling. No nomination for Tilda Swinton as Best Actress? In fact, the film deserved a nod in at least a few categories, especially considering the general lack of quality across the board with this year’s nominations.

Based on Lionel Shriver’s Orange Prize winning novel of the same title, the film takes on a triple pronged narrative; revealing to us Kevin’s development from being a difficult baby, to a disturbed child and then a genuinely sadistic teenager void of any emotion and a complete hatred for the world and in particular the person who brought him into it.

…[the film] culminates in Kevin committing atrocities not even [his mother] could imagine him capable of.

The party had peaked...

The film jumps back and forth, highlighting Kevin’s most cruel and inhumane actions, while Swinton as his mother Eva struggles to cope and comprehend with her child’s heartless behaviour. For no apparent reason he dedicates his whole life to projecting his relentless cruelty onto his mother and this culminates in Kevin committing atrocities not even she could imagine him capable of.

Supporting Swinton is John C. Reilly as her loving but naïve husband and the three actors who portray Kevin at different stages of his life match the professionalism of their experienced colleagues with well-balanced subtlety and tension.

…riveting performances and hypnotic and absorbing direction…

We Need to Talk about Kevin tells a harrowing story which is elevated by riveting performances and hypnotic and absorbing direction from Lynne Ramsay. It deserved awards, but maybe those particular elusive honours were not worthy of this film.

5 Stars

Images courtesy of BBC Films



About The Author

I am a film enthusiast and creative writer. Feel free to visit my personal website at http://thenumbereightytwo.wordpress.com/.

3 Responses

  1. Jamie Baker | Media Editor

    Thank you for your comments Adrian. My intention was not for the ‘review’ to come across as bitchy towards the Academy Awards, I was simply expressing how I felt the film had been harshly overlooked for even a solitary nomination.

    Obviously personal taste comes into this but ‘Keven’ should have been nominated over ‘Midnight in Paris’ and ‘Moneyball’ at the very least.

    On reflection of your comment that this isn’t a review, I appreciate what you are saying and maybe I should have classed it differently. But I am not sure that all reviews need to take on the exact same format.

    Most reviews are actually used to determine whether or not we would like to watch a particular film, so finding out the ending and ultimate motives can sometimes be a bit of a nuisance if you havn’t seen the film yet.


  2. Jamie Baker | Media Editor

    If I am completely honest Adrian, this was not my finest ‘review’ to date for MouthLondon so I can understand your frustration. Allow me to extend on my agreeably somewhat lacklustre review:

    I thought the ending was fitting with the rest of the film as it showed maturity and an appreciation for the audiences’ intelligence. I interpreted Kevin’s subtle and somewhat submissive response to his mother as conclusive or at least as conclusive as it could have been from this confused and stubborn child. He seemed to be expressing regret, albeit through a developed misunderstanding of his own actions. In fact I think the final lines spoken between the two key characters were as equally simple, yet powerful and affecting as Lynne Ramsay’s accomplished directorial effort.

    I would be interested to hear how you felt the ending did not tie everything together? I agree it was not an overt and completely decisive conclusion, but I am not sure how it could have successfully ended any other way.

    In review of the acting, I felt that each actor produced a near flawless performance. Reilly was as reliable as ever, and after a spell in a number of comedic roles, he again proved he can still be just as convincing and naturalistic as he was in Magnolia. Swinton put in yet another breathtaking performance. Here is an actor who needs nothing more than a script and a camera pointed in her general direction to completely hypnotise the audience into (in this case) sharing and sympathising with her troubles and emotions. If Meryl Streep is the female actor of our generation, I think she needs to shuffle over slightly and offer the corner of her throne to Swinton.

    I thought all three actors playing Kevin were very convincing; each as haunting as one another. A lot has been said of Ezra Miller’s performance, and rightly so, but much credit should also go to Jasper Newell for a creepy performance akin to the character of Damian in The Omen.

    A truly haunting film and one which lingers in the mind for a long time: If it started with the line ‘based on true events’, on this occasion I would have thoroughly believed it.


  3. Jamie Baker | Media Editor

    I agree Adrian. As much as I enjoyed the story and acting etc. in reflection, if I had to pick something which was lacking, it would be the motives behind Kevin’s relentless actions or at least a reason for them. I think it would be hard to give Kevin a definite motive; apart from nods towards ‘pure evil’, especially as it started pretty much from birth.

    I have not had a chance to read the novel yet. Are his motives addressed in the book?



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