tongue-tied lightning

The Best Films of 2011: #8 We Need to Talk About Kevin
February 27, 2012, 7:16 PM
Filed under: film | Tags: , , , ,

If we were allowed to break movies up into segments, the first 30 minutes of We Need To Talk About Kevin would have been my favorite film of the year. It’s absolutely effortless filmmaking, bouncing from one memory to another, with an internal logic that connects directly with the viewer’s subconscious. The cinematography is stunning, vast swaths of color (most often red) are thrown across the screen, leaving it resembling a Jackson Pollock. Jonny Greenwood’s score is both unsettling and instrumental to the intoxicating effect this sequence possesses. Another sense subtly overwhelmed to the point of surrender.

It’s inevitable that a narrative begins to emerge, but it’s intriguing to think of the film Kevin could’ve been if it were to remain an immersive barrage of images. The film we do get is nothing to lament. With the sole caveat that as we surface from the dream state it offers viewers a way out. Kevin as he appears in the film is a construct of Eva’s mind and taken at face value his behavior can border on the cartoonish. Likewise, John C. Reilly’s Franklin seems almost impossibly aloof at times. It’s important to remind oneself that these caricatures are colored and distorted by Eva’s experience and even then it can be difficult to reconcile them with our own experiences.

But Lynne Ramsay has never made films that were easily digestible or openly inviting, and We Need to Talk About Kevin only reaffirms her rare cinematic gifts. Despite what some may term narrative missteps there is no denying her masterful mise-en-scene. Of course this review would be incomplete without mentioning another in a series of singular performances by Tilda Swinton, but in the end it comes back to Ramsay and the ease with which she relates her vision. Hers is a talent that shouldn’t have been allowed to sit on the shelf for so long, and we can only hope we won’t have to wait 9 years for her next film.


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