T H DEVIL N S I D ME
WORDS BY JACK JONES Nine years might be a long time to wait between films but in the case of Lynne Ramsay’s new film the wait was worth the while. Not only is We Need To Talk About Kevin one of the finest examples of direction and filmmaking vision, it’s one the 21st century’s most pertinent commentaries on the myth of the modern nuclear family. Adapted from Lionel Shriver’s novel of the same title, Kevin is a detailed, if not unreliable, account of a mother’s troubled relationship with her son. Told exclusively from the memory of Eva Khatchadourian via a series of intercutting flashbacks, you are never on sure ground when it comes to choosing sides or laying blame. Her son Kevin is deeply disturbed and constantly behaves in an abhorrent and menacing manner towards her. But who is responsible for the way he is? Has Eva failed as a parent? Is she conceiling a secret evil of her own? We Need To Talk About Kevin poses many questions as to the details of Eva and Kevin’s relationship, and is no doubt the reason that this, undeniably superb, film has divided a lot of audiences.
"Kevin is infinitely more monstrous than any previous onscreen devil child. Dennis the Menace and Damien from Only Fools and Horses look like angels in comparison." Avoiding as little plot details as possible will greatly enhance the experience of watching Kevin, difficult though it may be considering it was originally a novel. There are clear separations however between the novel and the film, giving reason for those who have read Shriverâ€™s novel to see it. With the plot told exclusively thorugh letters in the novel, Ramsay favours a more visual method of flashbacks and dream states. The effect is immensely disorientating even though the film has a largely linear narrative through Kevinâ€™s upbringing. Flashes of scenes that continually haunt Eva are repeated and gradually expanded upon. But much relies on your observation of signals and symbols that lead to a horrifying crime for which Kevin is responsible. Like the viewer, Eva is herself looking for clues and searching for reasons. It seems, however, that the cause comes from within. Eva may not be the atypical image of motherhood, then again what is? Eva is a kindrid spirit who yearns to see the world and resists bearing a child as if they are an anchor on her freedom. But when she looks in
the mirror all she can see is a reflection of Kevin. Ramsay has previously shown her brilliance at working with young actors, her debut film Ratcatcher being a fine example, and her trio of Kevins are a revelation, all possessing similar mannerisms and identical features. All of them project a visible monstrous nature and as a character Kevin is infinitely more monstrous than any previous on-screen devil child - Dennis the Menace and Damien from Only Fools and Horses look like angels in comparison. With bold splashes of colour and experimental visuals that are reminscent of Kenneth Angerâ€™s short films, Ramsay is throwing all her many skills at the screen, but she is never overplayed or heavy handed in her direction. Kevin is merely working in the realm of psychological horror masterpiece. And with a perfect harmony between a director and some electrifying performances from, Tilda Swinton (Eva) and Ezra Miller (Kevin), the result is explosive. Whatever fears people have about their children they are all here to see in devastating and chilling fashion.
O MOTHER WHERE ART THOU? Eva (Tilda Swinton) starts to think she may not have hugged Kevin enough (left).
We Need To Talk About Kevin is out on DVD/Blu-ray 27 February
GROWING PAINS Ezra Miller as the devlish Kevin, who looks back at the carnage of his own creation (below).