we-need-to-talk-about-kevin-feb-28thThis adaptation of the Lionel Shriver novel is the story of a deeply
dysfunctional relationship between a mother (Tilda Swinton) and her
son (Ezra Miller/Jasper Newell). From the outset – the narration uses
flashback – we are aware of a dramatic event which will devastate their
lives and that of their local community. The film is not judgemental, so
we are left to make our own analysis of the events leading to the
harrowing outcome. “A river of red runs through it. This beautifully
crafted and provocative film is stained with the colour, sometimes
subtly, sometimes overtly, but it’s always there, lurking, threatening and
reminding,” Dylan Matthew, Edinburgh Guide. (Cert 15)
Dir: Lynne Ramsay 110 mins UK/USA 2011

Programme Notes

We Need to Talk About Kevin
UK/USA 2011 112 minutes Cert. 15

Based on the Lionel Shriver novel of the same name, this film by Scottish director Lynne Ramsay achieves a masterful retelling of this harrowing story. Departing from the epistolary format of the book, and using a non-linear, flashback narrative, Ramsay takes us through each stage of Eva and Franklin’s marriage from carefree, freewheeling couple to parenthood. At the centre of the story is the relationship between mother Eva (Tilda Swinton) and son Kevin (Ezra Miller/ Jasper Newell), which is a struggle from his birth and which we are compelled to observe and form our own conclusions. Ramsay’s visually stunning style is visceral, evoking a feeling of heightened disquiet, as we are led towards the revelation of the event that is to devastate the Khatchadourian family and the local community in which they live.

The performances of all the cast are pitch perfect, from Rock Duer as the toddler Kevin, to Jasper Newell – Kevin from 6-8 years – and finally the adolescent Kevin of Ezra Miller. John C Reilly, as the father Franklin, is oblivious to the palpable malevolence of his son to his wife Eva – the utterly superb Tilda Swinton – to which he subsequently fails to react.

Not an easy watch. Many of the images will remain in the memory afterwards, as will the questions this film will pose.

Eva Katchadourian – Tilda Swinton
Franklin – John C Reilly
Kevin (toddler) – Rock Duer
Kevin (6 – 8 years) – Jasper Newell
Kevin (teenager) – Ezra Miller
Celia – Ashley Gerasimovich

Director – Lynne Ramsay
Screenplay – Lynne Ramsay,Rory Kinnear based on a novel by Lionel Shriver
Original Music – Jonny Greenwood
Cinematography – Seamus McGarvey
Producers – Jennifer Fox, Luc Roeg,Robert Salerno

“Ramsay’s supreme adaptation does everything possible to retain the enormous psychological power of Shriver’s novel, whilst opting for a deeply cinematic, expressionist approach to narrative storytelling (the use of colour is outstanding throughout). The result is one of the most technically-impressive, emotionally-draining films of recent times, a repost to every dissenting voice convinced that no film adaptation can ever be as good as its source material.” Daniel Green, Cine Vue.


“This is, without question, one of the most emotionally powerful films ever made. It raised a lot of questions regarding nature vs. nurture and why these High School killings occur. People [at some point] on the autistic spectrum would find the development of the title character really harrowing.”

“Utterly harrowing but astonishingly good. Superb acting by the entire cast, great cinematography and inspired soundtrack – shades of The Midwych Cuckoos, Macbeth and Saint Sebastian!”

“Very relevant to the current spate of shootings in America”

“A film of unremitting horror – but beautifully done!”

“I have to give it an A for the acting but fear bad dreams and uncertainty.”

“Good acting”

“Kevin was broken from the start.”

“A film written in images and silences”

“Fantastically well shot”

“Quite well done, if a little evenly paced. I didn’t really find any of it believable. I also struggled to hear some of it.”

“First Norman Bates, now Kevin. We are rapidly turning into the ‘horror’ Film Society of Abingdon. We need to lighten up a bit for 2013/2014 or we will achieve cult status!”


A:16, B:6, C:2, D:0, E:0 to give 90%