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‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’: A Brief Summary of Lynne Ramsay’s Award-Winning Film

Credit: The Hollywood Reporter

I have been advised to read “We Need to Talk About Kevin” many times by an older friend of mine who wants me to explore my taste in literature. However, when I came across the film on Netflix while looking for a distraction from the persistent bangs of fireworks on Bonfire Night, I simply could not resist committing the utmost crime of watching the film before reading the book.

I admit, like many of the countless films I have watched, I found it difficult to get into and at times found myself on my phone instead of devoting my attention to the screen like I know I should have been. However, this only lasted the first few minutes — from then on, I was hooked.

The opening scenes operated as a great hook for the viewer, as they set out a clear idea of the style the rest of the film was going to be in, a slightly uncomfortable atmosphere but through use of flashbacks, oddly captive for the viewer. My love for Ezra Miller in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” probably had something to do with my want to carry on watching, but I am positive that the film would have had me drawn, nonetheless.

Throughout “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” stereotypical ideology and opinions are challenged, as the viewer is shown an insight to a futile family relationship. The hostility between mother and son is unlike any other film or book I have read, as it is not just playful fights and common indifferences. We know as soon as we are introduced to Kevin as a toddler, he is unlike all other children.

The technique is brilliantly executed, as we are forced to confront foreign feelings of detest toward the child through his committed actions toward his mother. Ramsay knows that these thoughts perceived by the viewer are unwelcome; it is a universal code that all we know is to love children. Familial love is a popular topic for many artistic portals, be it literature, filmography or art. However, “We Need to Talk About Kevin” questions our previous beliefs on the matter. Nothing changes for the unfortunate Katchadourian family following the birth of a new child, and clear parental favoritism is depicted through cleverly unsubtle interactions. A plot twist is centered around this theme during the peak of the film’s drama and thrill.

I am in no shock upon learning that the film has had its fair share of awards. The impeccable acting hits the nail on the head with actors such as Ezra Miller — perfecting what it means to be a young sociopath — and unfortunately common experiences such as divorce are done well despite the film’s strange nature. Tilda Swinton outstandingly portrays unprecedented scenes of mental deterioration and suffering, as expertly done shots with significant objects and links infiltrate the viewers mind and leave a lasting imprint. A surprising yet somewhat confusing ending sets the cherry on the cake for this brilliantly uncomfortable film.

All in all, I am extremely happy with my choice of Bonfire Night film, and although I have not read the book, I will enjoy the comparison between the film when I get around to reading it (probably soon).

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Written by Srabosti Basu

Student from England with an interest in human rights, journalism and Baz Luhrman films

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