We Need to Talk About Kevin

Tilda Swinton and Rocky Duer in 'We Need To Talk About Kevin.'
Courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories
Tilda Swinton and Rocky Duer in 'We Need To Talk About Kevin.'

Acting doesn't get much better than the subtly brilliant display put on by Tilda Swinton in We Need to Talk About Kevin. On the surface, the film is a bad-seed story, drawn from Lionel Shriver's bestseller about Eva Khatchadourian (Swinton), a travel writer who believes she's been trapped since giving birth to a monster. Her photographer husband, Franklin (John C. Reilly), sees little wrong with Kevin (played as a child by Rock Duer and Jasper Newell, and as a teen by Ezra Miller). But Eva knows he's wrong, that everyone's wrong. And the key to plumbing the depths of this haunting, unsettling film from Scottish director Lynne Ramsay (Ratcatcher, Morvern Callar) is that Ramsay puts us into Eva's head and keeps us there. Eva is a mother living her worst nightmare. She's at war with her child, from his first colicky cries to his climactic gun rampage. Miller, so good as the chubby-chasing son in City Island, is bonechilling and a scary match for Swinton in looks and temper. Is the mother seeing the worst of herself in her child and skewing reality for both of them? That's the mystery at the core of Ramsay's mesmerizing film. You may leave with your head spinning, but Kevin will have you talking plenty.

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