Lynne Ramsay’s long awaited cinematic return
There’s a lot going on within Lynne Ramsay’s magnificently harrowing adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s 2003 novel, of the same name, but We Need To Talk About Kevin remains perfectly handled throughout. No shot is wasted within this remarkable film and every moment builds to the central exploration of a dysfunctional mother/son relationship.
Tilda Swinton gives a breathtaking performance as the distraught mother that will leave audiences reeling long after the credits (a performance that was criminally overlooked by the Academy – but then 2011 was a horrific year for the prestigious awards ceremony) and the rest of the cast support her impressively.
Ramsay abandons the novel’s traditional approach and instead moulds a non-linear narrative, much in the same way as her sublime debut feature Ratcatcher. This exploration of time and space follows the lead character through many moments of her life, but each moment remains anchored to the present turmoil, guilt and remorse the mother suffers after he son’s horrific act.
Red is used as a visual metaphor throughout the narrative. While at first it seems little more than on-the-nose symbolism for blood, an artistic device commonly seen in cinema, it more accurately and uniquely represents the intense emotions she suffers after her son’s crime and visualises it as an un-washable stain.
Ramsay controls every aspect of her film with consummate ease; combining an easy-to-get-wrong non-linear narrative with high-impact, but never intrusive symbolism. We Need To Talk About Kevin is her first feature film in nearly ten years and she marks return with what is quite simply a masterpiece of modern British cinema.