We Need to Talk About Kevin (film)
|We Need to Talk About Kevin|
|Directed by||Lynne Ramsay|
|Based on||We Need to Talk About Kevin|
by Lionel Shriver
|Edited by||Joe Bini|
|Music by||Jonny Greenwood|
|Distributed by||Artificial Eye (United Kingdom) |
Oscilloscope Laboratories (United States)
|Box office||$10.8 million|
We Need to Talk About Kevin is a 2011 psychological thriller drama film directed by Lynne Ramsay from a screenplay she co-wrote with Rory Stewart Kinnear, based on the 2003 novel of the same name by Lionel Shriver. A long process of development and financing began in 2005, with filming commencing in April 2010.
Tilda Swinton stars as the mother of Kevin, struggling to come to terms with her psychopathic son and the horrors he has committed. The film premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and was released in the United Kingdom on 21 October 2011.
Eva Khatchadourian, once a successful travel writer, lives alone in a rundown house and works in a travel agency near a prison, where she visits Kevin, her son. She looks back at her memories of his growing up as she tries to cope with the hostility of her neighbors.
Eva, a reluctant mother, views Kevin as detached and difficult from childhood. He appears to loathe and deliberately antagonize Eva, and she has trouble bonding with him. As a baby, he cries incessantly, but only around her; as a child, he resists toilet training, rebuffs Eva's attempts at affection, and shows no interest in anything. He behaves like a happy, loving son when his father, Franklin, is present. One day, Kevin’s cruel behavior drives Eva to throw him against the wall, breaking his arm. Kevin tells Franklin he fell, using the incident to manipulate Eva into doing what he wants.
Franklin dismisses Eva's concerns and makes excuses for Kevin's behavior. When Kevin is confined to bed with a fever, Eva reads him Robin Hood, and Kevin shows Eva affection for the first time; however, he resumes his spiteful demeanor the moment he gets better. Franklin gives him a bow and arrow and teaches him archery.
Eva and Franklin have a second child, Celia, who is lively and cheerful; however, Kevin is disdainful towards her. A few years later, Celia's pet guinea pig mysteriously goes missing. Eva finds its remains in the garbage disposal the next day. She uses drain cleaner to unclog the disposal and Celia is later blinded in one eye after being exposed to the cleaner while Kevin was supposed to be watching her. Eva suspects Kevin is to blame, but Franklin defends him. Eva's suspicions strain the couple's marriage and they discuss divorce, which Kevin overhears.
Kevin orders several bike locks off the internet. Three days before his 16th birthday, he uses them to lock several students in the school gymnasium and murder them with his bow. After witnessing Kevin’s arrest and the bodies of his victims being carried away, Eva drives home, where she discovers that Kevin has murdered Franklin and Celia.
On the second anniversary of the massacre, Eva visits Kevin in prison; his demeanor has changed to demure and frightened in his anticipation of being transferred to an adult prison. Eva finally asks him why he committed the murders. Kevin responds that he used to think he knew but is no longer sure. Eva gives Kevin a warm embrace before leaving.
- Tilda Swinton as Eva Khatchadourian
- John C. Reilly as Franklin Plaskett
- Ezra Miller as Kevin Khatchadourian
- Jasper Newell as young Kevin
- Rocky Duer as infant Kevin
- Ashley Gerasimovich as Celia Khatchadourian
- Siobhan Fallon Hogan as Wanda
- Alex Manette as Colin
In 2005 BBC Films acquired the rights to adapt the book as a film. Executive producers Paula Jalfon and Christine Langan took it through the development stage, and were joined by executive producer Steven Soderbergh.
Lynne Ramsay, who became available after her involvement in the film adaptation of The Lovely Bones came to an end, signed on to direct, and was working on a script with In the Bedroom writer Robert Festinger by 2006. Shriver was offered a consultative role in the production process but declined, stating she had "had it up to [her] eyeballs with that book," though she did express concern for how the film would capture Eva's role as the unreliable narrator. Production had not begun by 2007, though BBC Films renewed the adaptation rights early in the year. In an interview with The Herald in September 2007, Shriver stated that she had not been in contact with Ramsay about the film for over two years. Ramsay's spokesperson told the newspaper that a new script draft was being prepared and, at the time the interview was published, had not been submitted to the producers. Michael Clayton producer Jennifer Fox joined the production team in 2008; the film was expected to begin shooting that year. The script appeared on the 2008 Brit List, a film-industry-compiled list of the best unproduced screenplays in British film. Ramsay's partner Rory Stewart Kinnear also contributed to the final shooting script.
Christine Langan told the London Evening Standard in February 2010 that the long delay in production had been caused by BBC Films having difficulty funding the high budget; Ramsay rewrote the script so the film could be made for a lower cost. The UK Film Council awarded £18,510 to the production from its development fund in the same month. Financial backing was also provided by Footprint Investments LLP, Caemhan Partnership LLP and Lipsync Productions, and production is in association with Artina Films and Forward Films.
In October 2009, Independent Film Company picked up the rights to international sales, and made pre-sales at the American Film Market. The film premiered In Competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, where it was met with praise from film critics.
Artificial Eye distributed the film in the United Kingdom from 21 October 2011 and Oscilloscope Laboratories distributed the film theatrically in North America in the winter of 2011. We Need to Talk About Kevin opened in a limited release in North America in a single theater and grossed $24,587, ranking 53rd at the box office. The film ended up earning $1,738,692 in America, and $5,754,934 internationally, for a total of $7,493,626.
We Need to Talk About Kevin received positive reviews. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 75% based on 210 reviews, with an average rating of 7.4/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "We Need to Talk About Kevin is a masterful blend of drama and horror, with fantastic performances across the board (Tilda Swinton especially, delivering one of her very best)." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 68 out of 100 based on reviews from 37 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."
Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert gave the film 4 out of 4 stars and wrote, "As a portrait of a deteriorating state of mind, We Need to Talk About Kevin is a masterful film." British film critic Mark Kermode of BBC Radio 5 Live named We Need to Talk About Kevin as the Best Film of 2011 and as the second best film of the 2010s. Richard Brody wrote in The New Yorker that We Need to Talk About Kevin "masquerades as a psychological puzzle but is essentially a horror film full of decorous sensationalism." He opined that the film exploited but did not explore the fascination that "bad seed" children exert. Jake Martin, a Jesuit priest and movie critic, wrote in his review in Busted Halo that the film is "[not] yet another installment in the pantheon of post-modern films intent upon assaulting the human desire to give meaning to the world." Instead, he says, "We Need to Talk About Kevin in fact needs to be talked about, as what it is attempting to do by marrying the darkest, most nihilistic components of contemporary cinema with a redemptive message is groundbreaking."
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- Kermode, Mark (24 December 2019). "#63: The Top Ten Films of the Decade". Kermode on Film. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
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