On The Edge Films

Cinematic Thoughts for Cinematic Minds

Film School: We Need To Talk About Kevin

2011/ USA, UK

Director: Lynne Ramsay

Starring: Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller, John C. Reilly

We Need To Talk About Kevin is a psychologically emotional thriller based on the million-selling Orange Prize winning novel by Lionel Shriver and is directed with great sensitivity and dedication by Lynne Ramsay. The film raises the controversial question of nature versus nurture and inspires the audience to empathise with the Academy Award Winner Tilda Swinton in her amazing performance as Eva who puts aside her aspirations and ambitions to raise a child whom she appears to struggle in developing a relationship with. Academy Award Nominee John C. Reilly and Ezra Miller also star in this controversial story of a boy who does something horrific that society would claim to be unforgiveable, yet Eva (Swinton) faces the dilemma of grappling with grief and responsibility towards her son Kevin (Miller). The film encourages the audience to consider the impact of nature and nurture, biology and society. How much is Kevin’s behaviour due to Eva’s inability to develop a relationship with him? Or does this inability stem from Kevin’s biology from the day he was born?

Eva is a successful career woman who loves her husband Franklin (Reilly) yet is reluctant to forgo her independence to become a mother. When Eva does give birth to Kevin she experiences extreme alienation and the ultimate unthinkable- a mother disliking her own child. As the film progresses, scenes switch between Eva struggling with her relationship to Kevin and Eva struggling to cope with the aftermath Kevin creates. The relationship between Kevin and his mother in comparison to his relationship with his father is very intriguing and many could relate this to Freud’s Oedipus Complex, in which Freud proposed the idea that a child has a desire for his mother and a vengeance for his father.

We Need To Talk About Kevin exemplifies the psychological debate as to who is to blame? Why would a child commit such a disturbing act? Is it nature or nurture that shapes a person’s behaviour? Miller gives an incredible performance as Kevin and portrays the image of a psychologically unstable young boy with perfection. Meanwhile Reilly gives a very accurate depiction of Franklin and Kevin’s alleged happy father-son relationship. Many people will be captivated by this film and the story behind it as it has universal appeal and is beautifully created yet sometimes shocking. We Need To Talk About Kevin hasan element of psychological and philosophical investigation and is brutally compelling, encouraging the audience to engage with opposed moral dilemmas. It illustrates what many people need to talk about but can’t. If you want a film that is psychologically and emotionally enthralling We Need To Talk About Kevin is for you. It includes fantastic performances from Swinton, Reilly and Miller and stems from an inspirational novel by Lionel Shriver, in which BAFTA Award Winning Director Ramsay provides a brilliant adaptation.


-Becca Darbyshire


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