We Need to Talk About Kevin

Director: Lynne Ramsay (2011)
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller, John C. Reilly
Find it: IMDB

Spoiler: nobody talks about Kevin. Maybe if they'd stopped and said something like "our son is a bit of a twat. You should smack him more often, John C. Reilly," or, "Kevin, stop being a cunt," some of the lad's more horrifying acts might have been averted. Or maybe if Franklin (Reilly) had told his wife something like "you know, you shouldn't tell our toddler son that you resent him. Kids tend to hold onto that shit, later in life." But nobody really ever talks about Kevin, although Eva (Swinton) is very concerned.

The titular Kevin is a serial killer in the making. It's what would have happened if Harry Morgan had bought Dexter a longbow and said, "yeah, whatever" instead of teaching him not to go around being an arsehole. Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly completely flunk the 'bringing up a psychopath' parenting class. Buying your possibly crazy son a longbow for Christmas may not be the best course of action. Why not a chainsaw or a set of kitchen knives while you're at it?

The epistolary approach of Lionel Shriver's novel is abandoned, although the film takes a very non-linear path, jumping in and out of flashbacks in its telling of a story about the most problematic of problem children. Kevin needs not so much as a naughty step but a whole naughty staircase.

It's a difficult film to watch, despite there being virtually no bloodshed or violence ever shown. Instead, it is implied through the use of meaningful colours, like a competent I Know Who Killed Me. At times it makes the artifice of the production seem evident - nothing pulls you out of a story like Tilda Swinton standing in front of a stack of tomato soup tins with 'LOOK, SUBTEXT' practically tattooed (or slathered, with tomato soup) on her forehead. I love tomato soup as much as the next fellow, but do you really need that much on the shelves at one time?

We need to talk about this supermarket's stock ordering system.

But We Need To Talk About Kevin is a powerful, disturbing piece of cinema, gifted with the most malevolent sneer I've ever seen. Kevin's snarl is an expression most parents will have seen in their time ("what do you mean, be home by nine? Ugh") but then, most parents won't be at risk of being shoved down a trash disposal system after being on its receiving end. Not that Tilda Swinton's face is anything to be sniffed at. She does a fine line in "I'm not angry, I'm just disappointed." Between her and Ezra Miller, it's no wonder John C. Reilly makes so little impact.

We Need To Talk About Kevin is fine, as long as you don't intend on having children at any point. It's scary, very well-directed and genuinely shocking. We do indeed need to talk about Kevin. Specifically, how good it is.


  1. Haha really funny review, and you still managed to cover what makes it a great film. I loved the use of colour (red and blue), even though, as you say, it is a bit unsubtle at times. The fractured narrative is also great, makes you use your brain lol.

    would appreciate it if you'd check out my blog, I may be reviewing this movie soon, cheers Ashley

    They Made Me Do It

  2. I need to talk about your review. Very funny. Especially liked that last picture caption. This is definitely in my top 3 of 2011. Bloody brilliant if not particularly subtle in places.

  3. Thank you chaps, very much appreciated. Ashley, but of course! I look forward to reading your review soon.


  4. I just watched this movie last night. I felt it had alot of potential, yet there were just so many unanswered questions. The timeline swapping back and forth was far too frequent as well. I'm really not a fan of producers that leave so much pertinent information out of the film. Each side clip was so short and lacking in information. Also, what was Kevin like at school? Why didn't his parents seek out psychiatric care? This movie was more about his mother's reaction to Kevin, than about Kevin himself.
    By the way, his mother never actually said "We need to talk about Kevin" to her husband, or anyone else for that matter. Ridiculous title and rest assured, I'll never watch another film produced by Paula Jalfon or Christine Langan. Likely one of the worst films I've seen to date.