We Need to Talk about Kevin
by Ruben R. Rosario
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The first images of we see of Tilda Swinton in We Need to Talk about Kevin is her in Spain, partaking in the La Tomatina tomato fight in Buñol. She is being carried across a horde of people in a christ-like image and covered in red tomato paste. This symbol is a mere interpretation of the struggles that she shall endure throughout the entire film. Lynne Ramsay’s third feature We Need to Talk About Kevin is a great piece of work, showing how Ramsay’s style plays into telling a conventional dramatic thriller, led by a great cast. Eva (Tilda Swinton) struggles as a mother trying to raise her son Kevin (Ezra Miller). Her husband, Franklin (John C. Reilly) thinks that she’s just being silly and thinks that she’s just having difficulty adjusting as a new mother. After a series of dramatic events, Eva must deal with the guilt that she carries for giving birth to a true life monster.
Ramsay uses the elements of cross cutting between the past Eva, giving birth and raising Kevin to the current Eva, living in down and out and visiting Kevin in jail in order to keep the suspense flowing throughout the film. While it isn’t hard to guess to what’s happened in the film for Kevin to be in jail, Ramsey handles the images, voice overs and other elements well in order for one to imagine the horrible elements that have taken place. There is only once where we truly get to see the damage that Kevin does, and when it does happen, just as Eva finds out, it is just as devastating to our eyes as it is to her family.
While there is an element of heavy handedness, though the use of repeated images and motifs, We Need to Talk about Kevin is still a strong piece of work. The use of red though out the film is a good balance of the hate relationship between Eva and her son Kevin as well as the love that she must have for him as a mother by the finale of the film. The wonderful cinematography done by Seamus McGarvey gives weight to all of the different feelings that both Kevin and his mother have in the film. His images are a perfect match to Ramsey’s style of giving the audience a glimpse into a bleek world, like her prior films Ratcatcher and Morvern Callar.
We Need to Talk about Kevin is a great piece of work by a very gifted filmmaker. Lynne Ramsay’s film is supported by a strong cast, great cinematography and intense source material that has worked together to make fine film. While some people might have complaints the heavy handedness of the films symbols and color schemes, We Need to Talk about Kevin is still a extremely well made film. After seeing Ramsay back in action after years of being attached to projects and then being dumped, it’s very nice to seeing her make something commercially viable and yet retaining her artistic sensibilities.
Ruben R. Rosario is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio for Visual Media. He works as a freelance location sound mixer, boom operator, sound designer, and writer in his native Chicago. He’s an avid collector of films, comics, and anime.
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