Film Review: ‘We Need to Talk about Kevin,’ starring Tilda Swinton & John C. Reilly

By: GabrielleAdelle

If I hear Buddy Holly’s “Everyday,” any time on Halloween day, I may have a complex. That is just a sliver of how affecting the film, We Need to Talk about Kevin, is.

I won’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of this film yet, unless you follow film and festival news closely. We Need to Talk about Kevin has been making rounds at festivals, earning much praise and awkward post-film silences. The story is about Eva, a mother whose son committed a school shooting, killing and injuring many of his fellow students. Eva, played by the amazing Tilda Swinton, tries to come to terms with what her son did. Throughout the movie, there are flashbacks of her son, Kevin, being raised her and her husband (played by John C. Reilly). It is slowly revealed the extent of Kevin’s evilness and actions.

It goes without saying that Tilda Swinton did an impeccable job playing Eva. I am nowhere near being in the situation that she is in, but I felt for her. Swinton plays Eva with extreme vulnerability; it’s agonizing to see how people treat her and how Kevin treated her. But what I really loved was how this is a female-focused thriller yet; it didn’t go the “hysteria” route that I feel other films have done. Eva is smart, depressed and damaged, but she isn’t crazy. Which is pretty remarkable, when raising someone like Kevin.

Ezra Miller’s portrayal of Kevin is also note-worthy. Although, it’s hard to acknowledge because his character is the embodiment of some of my worst nightmares. Yet, obviously, that is what made his portrayal so good. It got to me. It freaked the hell out of me. If I see Ezra Miller ever on the street, my first instinct may be to cower.

As for the story, the film flows seamlessly from flashbacks to Eva’s present. During each flashback, we get to over-analyze it, look for the hints, clues. In a way, we re-live Eva’s motherhood with her. It gives off such a realistic vibe and it’s hard not to become absorbed into the story. I must stress how deeply disturbing this story is. The first thing you notice is all the red imagery, and it is present throughout the film. We see red paint splatter and a smattering of strawberry jelly on bread. It’s obviously not gory, but it sure feels like it.

As Kevin gets older, the creepier he gets. His interactions with his mother are disturbing. Saying words that I would NEVER utter in front of my mother, no matter at what age. The way the director, Lynne Ramsay, films all this intensifies the creepiness. And with such rich cinematography, Ramsay makes the most of it, turning it into something strange, off and haunting.


I was thoroughly creeped out by We Need to Talk about Kevin. So much so, that I didn’t really want to talk about Kevin after seeing the film. I was resisting writing this review. Don’t mistake that for thinking I thought the film is bad. In fact, I thought it was excellent. It’s well-written, well-directed, and well-acted. Tilda Swinton deserves an Oscar nod, for sure! When the film does get released, I absolutely recommend it because you need to be creeped out by this great film too. After you see it, send me a tweet and maybe we’ll talk a little about Kevin.

We Need to Talk about Kevin comes out in select theaters December 9th. 



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