Wednesday, 14 December 2011

We Need To Talk About Kevin.

Are any of us truly qualified for parenthood?

Lynne Ramsay is regarded as one of Britain’s brightest and best directorial talents, the 41-year-old was born in Glasgow and reared in Maryhill the setting for her first feature film, which was the highly acclaimed self penned Ratcatcher (1999). Set in 1975 it’s an unsettling account of childhood and deprivation in an area of Glasgow that was not enhanced by the piles of rubbish left around due to the dustman’s strike. Young James plays by a canal on the edge of a rundown housing estate; during some boyish larking about he accidentally pushes his twelve-year-old friend into the murky water’s causing his death by drowning. This debut feature film is a flawless study of childhood guilt, and one I would highly recommend.

Lynne Ramsey.
Her next feature film project was 2002’s Morvern Callar. A young woman in a small port town in Scotland awakens on Christmas morning to discover her boyfriend has committed suicide; he leaves a manuscript of an unpublished novel behind. She erases his name, puts hers on the novel, and goes to Ibiza, where she sells it as her own work. This film confirmed Lynne Ramsay as an important, original talent in international cinema.

The following five years she was abortively attached to an adaptation of Alice Sebolds The Lovely Bones, which she and co-writer Liana Dognini worked on for a lengthy period of time before the book became a massive success. Peter Jackson and DreamWorks eventually snatched the film from under her nose. Ramsey, who was clearly perplexed by the affair, blamed the shenanigans on underhand deals and greed.

Kevin Khatchadourian.
Her long awaited third film is We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011) a psycho-horror nightmare that premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and is based on Lionel Shriver’s 2003 novel of the same name it tells of a mother trying to cope with the emotional fallout of a violent teenage crime. For a large part of the film Ramsey condenses this very long and detailed story, one that spans 18 years, into short sections seen from Eva’s (the mothers) prospective. Providing no voice over to clarify time she uses three actors to play Kevin and differing hairstyles mark his mothers ages. When the film opens we find the rather sad and dejected middle aged Eva Khatchadourian living in unending torment, her teenage son Kevin has been incarcerated for two years for an horrendous high school atrocity, her small clapboard house and her car have been splattered in red paint and she is commonly assaulted both physically and verbally.
Eva and Franklin 
The moodily aggressive and sneering six to eight year old Kevin is played brilliantly by Jasper Newell with Ezra Miller playing the older Kevin: an intensely sadistic, manipulative monster who deliberately befriends his father (John C. Reilly) but alienates his mother. Shot on location in Connecticut with superbly structured cinematography by Seamus McGarvey and Werner Herzog regular editor Joe Bini does a fine job. Co-produced by Luc Roeg, the son of Nicolas Roeg best known for Walkabout (1971), Don’t Look Now (1973) and co-directing Performance (1970). These was the only UK contender for this year’s Palme D’Or, were it surprisingly failed to pick up an award, but has since won two, British Independent Film Award for Best Director and European Film Academy Award for Best European Actress for Tilda Swinton.
Will Eva's unending torment ever finisk?

Not a film for the fainthearted, Peter Bradshaw described it as cinemas worst case of post-natal depression. I found this a completely unnerving and disturbing, but fascinating, experience, an overdue reminder of Ramsey’s talent as a great filmmaker just watch how she uses the colour red throughout the film to draw us in the final tragedy. Nobody could play reluctant motherhood much better than Tilda Swinton an actress that inhabits the characters she plays and none more so than Eva Khatchadourian. Having never read the book I have no idea if it offers a conclusion, but the film leaves us with plenty to moralise about; are we getting the full picture seeing the events are from Eva’s prospective, and why did Kevin carry out the horrendous crime, was it some perverted revenge against his mother? Are any of us truly qualified for parenthood?

As a conclusion I will opine that no amount of words can do this film justice and I sincerely hope it gets the rewards its deserves during the upcoming award season.

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