I've been dying to talk about We Need to Talk about Kevin after its debut at Cannes yesterday. I woke up and everyone was humming with praise for the film I'd barely heard of. All I knew was that it starred John C. Reilly, and the name made it sound like something of an indie comedy in the same vein as Cyrus. After pulling up a few clips from the film, I realized pretty quickly that wasn't the case, and John C. Reilly isn't close to the main focus. The film stars Tilda Swinton as the mother of a sociopath who just murdered several classmates at his local school, and is now trying to come to terms with her own guilt. It's the sort of gut punch you expect of such a great festival, but so rarely receive. Every review I've read has made me all the more interested in seeing it, and I hope that it arrives sooner rather than later. Not too soon, though, because I want the chance to see director Lynne Ramsay's first two films before seeing her third.
Guy Lodge (In Contention), ****: "Lionel Shriver’s 2003 bestseller 'We Need to Talk About Kevin' is a rare pop novel indeed: a nippy, low-comfort social essay that lures readers into messily untied arguments on topical subject matter the talk-show circuit would have far less trouble resolving. It might have made for a cluttered, stentorian film about things, particularly as the novel’s candid, epistolary format — a series of unreturned letters from an emotionally paralyzed wife and mother to her absent husband — lends itself to reams of dense, subtext-securing voiceover."
Brad Brevet (Rope of Silicon), B+: "I'm not sure if there is a level of relief to be had at the end of We Need to Talk about Kevin. Ramsay has fashioned an outright stunner that comes at you from every angle. The sound design, the editing, the cinematography, the direction and Swinton's performance are Oscar caliber. It's a film to be seen in a theater, with you sitting dead center where you'll best feel each scene breathing in and out on the audience. Once it begins, you're in Ramsay's hands and it doesn't take more than a minute for her to gain a tight grip."
Eric Kohn (indieWIRE), A: "Tilda Swinton delivers a breathtakingly fragile performance as Eva, whose 15-year-old son Kevin (Ezra Miller) sits in jail while she lives in the shadow of his murderous act. But she’s hardly without culpability, having apparently resented her son’s existence since his birth. Nothing is certain in Ramsay’s version of the events. Following her stylistic tendencies in Ratcatcher and the delectable quasi-noir Morvern Callar, the director masterfully conveys her troubled protagonist’s subjectivity. Early on, Eva dashes to the scene of her son’s crime, standing in a crowd of mortified faces and looking at events that Ramsay chooses to withhold. Instead, the movie launches an elaborate structure that flashes forward and backward, nimbly crafting a timeline of the family’s downhill slope."