The 2011 Cannes Film Festival is off to an exciting start and We Need to Talk About Kevin, from director Lynne Ramsay, is one of the first movies creating major buzz. We Need to Talk About Kevin tells the story of a troubled mother-son relationship that comes to a head with a gruesome school massacre at the hands of the boy, Kevin. I read and was a fan of Lionel Shriver's book when it came out in 2004, but the twists and turns still had me on the edge of my seat even knowing what was coming. We Need to Talk About Kevin is not easy to watch and I left the theater feeling incredibly unsettled, but the amazing performances from Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, and the series of boys who play Kevin are worth every anxious second.
The film jumps between before the incident, as we watch Kevin grow up and Eva (Swinton) struggle with her relationship with him, and after, where we see the world having turned against Eva, because of the crimes her son committed. Reilly once again proves his dramatic chops playing Kevin's dad Franklin, but it's Swinton's quiet suffering that really carries the movie. She is stunning as a mother who's not sure how to love her first born, or if she even does at all. Kevin, played mostly by Jasper Newell and Ezra Miller, leaves the viewer wondering if there is such a thing as a truly bad kid or whether there is humanity in everyone. There are moments when Lynne Ramsay's style overpower the story, such as the blood-red imagery that flows throughout, and those unfamiliar with the novel may have a hard time following the nonlinear storytelling. Bottom line: We Need to Talk About Kevin is difficult, devastating, and nightmarish at times, but it's ultimately worth it.
We Need to Talk About Kevin doesn't currently have a US release date, but I imagine it will after the Cannes buzz.