DRAMA; 1hr 52min
STARRING: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller
Special delivery: Swinton and Reilly
Tilda Swinton (The War Zone) is consistently drawn to demanding material. Her collaboration with writer-director Lynne Ramsay (Morvern Callar ) in this adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s 2003 novel We Need to Talk About Kevin is another courageous and lacerating choice: Ramsay’s heroically imagined film is an unsparing downer about many difficult things. The most immediate of them is how it feels to be the parents of a teenage boy who massacres his schoolmates. As Eva, the conflicted mother of that boy (Miller as Kevin), Swinton is brilliant, her performance — part remembrance of happier times, part agonising present — a tracery of pain.
While her kindly husband, Franklin (Reilly), coped more equably by not delving too deep, Kevin was a screamy baby and a mulish, withholding toddler and Eva never bonded with him. Now a lonely social pariah, she is tormented by the suspicion that her failed relationship with her hostile son has resulted in his actions. The film has no definitive nature-nurture answers. Maybe there aren’t any. But its questions are minutely shattering.