We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)
Directed by Lynne Ramsay
Written by Lionel Shriver, Lynne Ramsay, Rory Stewart Kinnear
Produced by Jennifer Fox, Luc Roeg, Robert Salerno, Philip Herd, Andrew Warren, Christopher Figg, Paula Jalfon, Lisa Lambert, Norman Merry, Andrew Orr, Lynne Ramsay, Christine Langan, Michael Robinson, Steven Soderbergh, Tilda Swinton, Robert Whitehouse, Suzanne Baron, Michael Corso, Molly Egan, Simon Greenall, Anthony Gudas, Leslie Thomas
Starring Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller, Jasper Newell, John C. Reilly, Ashley Gerasimovich, Rock Duer, Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Alex Manette

“It is not attention that the child is seeking but love.”

–Sigmund Freud

Nobody does, so the unbalanced son of a mundivagant author (Swinton) and her purblind husband (Reilly) grows from an unstill baby into an insolently incommunicative toddler (Duer), then a child (Newell) whose unchecked petulance finds expression in contumelious conduct and a refractory destructivity that hardens during inattentive and irrespondent years into the incisive opprobry and underhanded abuse by which he’s characterized as a teenager (Miller), and an atrocity’s augured. Her first visit stateside finds Scotland’s preeminent directress exploring what everyone should yet so few will after every murderous spree, picking the kernel of Shriver’s novel to condemn the excessive liberality and negligence typifying whatever presently passes for parenting, manifest maddeningly as pleasant lies, quiet reluctance from conflict, an absence of corporal punishment, acquiescence to pettishly puerile vagaries and unremitting disaffection, here initially attributed to postpartum depression, which aggravates acrimony reciprocally. Swinton’s anathema silently suffers public persecution as penance in the aftermath of her son’s ultimate trespass, and meanders mnemonically in flashbacks dreamily, anachronically interconnected as Leone prescribed, which demonstrate her failures to love, to chasten, to relate, to communicate, while her oblivious husband refuses to acknowledge but one of his son’s many misdeeds. Ramsay excels in the exhibition of commonplace frailties and their worst consequences, always guiding her leads to extremities without falsity. Her careerist’s frigidity and parental ineptitude are registered keenly by Swinton, who’s weirdly, unnecessarily, crinally and ocularly embrowned to adopt some maternal semblance to Duer, Newell and Miller, all of whom plausibly exude their malfeasant’s cunning and antipathy. Always approaching his dramatic roles with an everyman’s realism contrary to his famously clownish comedic characters, Reilly likewise creates without caricaturing his oafishly obtuse father. If only to preserve the primacy of their story’s pathological burden, neither Shriver nor Ramsay stooped to contribute to the irrational, pan-Atlantic, leftist “conversation” concerning firearms; by assuming the archer’s posture, their antagonist affirms the determining significance not of means but madness. Punctiliously cut by Herzog’s preferred editor Joe Bini, and swollen with sanguine symbolism, Kevin exposes without homily how abominations are conceived behind suburban veneers.

Recommended for a double feature paired with Elliot Rodger’s mortifying videos.

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