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Tilda Swinton is Spellbinding in Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin

Posted on the 20 October 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
Tilda Swinton need to talk

Tilda Swinton needs to talk about Kevin to beat her tomato soup addiction. Photo Credit: BBC films

When Lionel Shriver’s novel We Need to Talk About Kevin was published in 2003, the memory of the Columbine High School shootings just four years earlier was fresh in people’s minds. But the issue of School massacres is far from being one of the past; although less publicised than Columbine, there have been more school and university shootings in the US annually than ever before in the last three years. The film version of We Need to Talk About Kevin, which is directed by Lynne Ramsay, follows the book in looking at what the mothers of teenage gunman go through.

The film open with Kevin’s mother, Eva (Tilda Swinton) dreaming about a Spanish tomato fight, establishing the bright red color palate that Ramsay uses throughout the film. The red of the tomatoes soon becomes red paint that has been daubed across Eva’s suburban house by a parent of one of those killed, and then the blood of the dead pupils that Kevin (Ezra Miller) has massacred as Swinton relives her memories of her son, visits him in jail and remembers her estranged husband Franklin (John C Reilly).

Eve’s journey is not just one through memory, but one she must make to learn to live with what her son has done and, eventually, to be able to talk about Kevin — Swinton’s interpretation of this role has won the unanimous approval of the critics. Here’s what they had to say:

A film that explores the female side to tragedy. “Tremendously acted” by Swinton gushed The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw. In an review from the Cannes International Film Festival, he called the film “superb”,  and said that it “reminds us that someone does the dirty, dreary work of explaining, feeling unhappy, going on prison visits and generally carrying the can” when a tragedy like this occurs.

“Utterly transfixing”, purred The Daily Telegraph‘s Sukhdev Sandhu who said that despite the film’s slightly “overdone” color symbolism it is an completely fascinating work. In his final estimation, Sandhu pronounced that “with no resolution or redemption on offer, it’s remarkable how easily Ramsay sustains our interest right to the very end.”

Relevant and risk-taking. “It’s experimental but never alienating and horrific in all the right ways,” agreed Time Out’s Dave Calhoun, who praised Ramsay for giving us “mesmerising and provocative cinema.”

Swinton is great but the film is a little alienating. The Hollywood Reporter’s Kirk Honeycutt agreed with his peers that Swinton gives a “tour-de-force performance” in this “real horror film”, but argued that the “odd” images and music leave us with a movie ”to think about and debate over but not one to embrace.”

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