We Need to Talk About Kevin
On release from 21st October
The Scottish filmmaker Lynne Ramsay made an electrifying debut with 1999’s Ratcatcher, followed it up with the soulful Morvern Callar in 2001 and was then bounced into an enforced layoff (the result, in part, of a doomed attempt to adapt The Lovely Bones). Happily she shows no signs of rust on We Need to Talk About Kevin, neatly filleted from the bestselling novel by Lionel Shriver. Tilda Swinton is ideally cast as Eva, a one-time travel writer marooned in Connecticut, toiling to connect with her bad seed of a son (Ezra Miller, positively sulphurous). We know near the start that Kevin will commit a Columbine-style massacre at his high school but the deed itself is almost by the by. Instead, we dip in and out of Eva’s memories, diving for answers, explanations, some clue to culpability.
Even if it’s not perfect—John C Reilly (below, with Swinton) is underused as the ineffectual father, while Kevin is painted as too exultantly evil—this is an elegant, confident, profoundly unsettling drama. No one plays flayed and haunted as well as Swinton and she rustles up a tour de force here; hiding out by the soup cans at the supermarket and steering her car through an eerie suburban Halloween, where pint-sized ghouls and skeletons flit across the headlights’ beam like emissaries of the damned.