'We Need to Talk About Kevin' is the latest film from director Lynne Ramsay (Ratcatcher and Morvern Callar). It is based on Lionel Shriver's 2003 novel of the same name and is about a Mothers attempt to come to terms with the terrible crime committed by her eldest child Kevin and her part in the failed and distant relationship with her son. Some have said it’s a psychological thriller, and it is. Some say it’s a film that challenges the myth of the nurturing mother. But most say it’s a throwback to that horror genre which dominated 60's and late 70's horror cinema … the ultimate taboo … the child as the personification of evil. Ladies and gentlemen may I present the return of The Devil Child.
The horror symbolism is there from the first couple of scenes, from 'Eva' played by Tilda Swinton as a young woman celebrating her freedom at the 'Tomatina' Tomato festival in Spain to the older 'Eva' coming out of her small home to see her house and car daubed in red paint. The film follows Eva as she tries to move on with her life and the flashbacks to her time with her husband Franklin (John C. Reilly) and the difficulties Eva has with bonding with her baby 'Kevin.' From day one starting with his constant crying to his later calculated acts of rebellion against his own mother, we clearly see the 'kids are not alight'. As he grows into a 'Teenager' played by Ezra Miller, Kevin's plotting becomes precise and calculated until it is finally realised into the awful crime he commits. And just when Eva is devastated by this, the worse is yet to come.
The performances are excellent as is the direction by Ramsay, but special mention must be made to the three boys playing Kevin on his road to destiny, Rocky Duer (toddler), Jasper Newell (6-8) and off course Ezra Miller as the final incarnation. The three actors seem in sync and you actually believe that Ramsay made the film over a 13 year period watching the same child grow up.
The film has a few questions: does the way a child is raised really dictate his action in real life? Will a cold mother turn her son into a cold ruthless killer? … well Klara Hitler doted on her son. Maybe the father has a lot to answer for? This is a mesmerising film from Ramsay and a wonderful 'horror' throwback made all the more disturbing by what it doesn't show. I cannot recommend this film enough. In the end children are innocent, sweet, and pure but capable of evil in equal measure. So keep a priest and crucifix and the daggers of Megiddo on hand, and be prepared to dispatch the evil little buggers back to hell!