We Need to Talk About Kevin (film)
We Need to Talk About Kevin is a 2011 psychological thriller directed by Lynne Ramsay, and adapted from Lionel Shriver's novel of the same title. A long process of development and financing began in 2005, with filming commencing in April 2010.
|We Need to Talk About Kevin|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Lynne Ramsay|
|Based on||We Need to Talk About Kevin|
by Lionel Shriver
|Music by||Jonny Greenwood|
|Edited by||Joe Bini|
|Distributed by||Oscilloscope Laboratories|
|Box office||$10.8 million|
Tilda Swinton stars as the mother of Kevin, struggling to come to terms with her 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.
Teenager Kevin Khatchadourian is in prison after committing a massacre at his high school. His mother, Eva, once a successful travel writer, lives alone in a rundown house and works in a travel agency near the prison, where she visits Kevin. She looks back at her memories of him growing up as she tries to cope with the hostility of her neighbors.
Kevin was 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 watching. Eva's frustration drives her to throw Kevin against the wall, breaking his arm. Kevin tells Franklin he fell, using the incident to blackmail 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 a book about Robin Hood; when Robin competes in Prince John's archery contest, Kevin shows Eva affection for the first time. 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 and jealous. A few years later, Celia's pet guinea pig is killed and she is blinded in one eye by caustic cleaning fluid. Eva is suspicious, but Franklin insists that Kevin is not to blame. Eva's suspicion strains the couple's marriage and they discuss divorce. Eva comes to fear her son, as she sees growing evidence of Kevin's sadism.
As a teenager, Kevin locks several students in the school gymnasium and murders them with his bow. When Eva arrives home, she finds Kevin has murdered Franklin and Celia. On the second anniversary of the massacre, Eva visits Kevin in prison. Eva asks him why he committed the murders. Kevin, who is about to be transferred to an adult prison, responds that he used to think he knew but is no longer sure. Eva hugs Kevin and walks away sadly.
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.
Filming commenced on 19 April 2010 on location in Stamford, Connecticut, and concluded on 28 May 2010. A key filming location was J.M. Wright Technical High School in Stamford. Jonny Greenwood of the band Radiohead composed the film's score.
In October 2009, IFC Films picked up the rights to international sales, and made pre-sales at the American Film Market. Artificial Eye distributed the film in the UK from 21 October 2011. Oscilloscope Laboratories distributed the film theatrically in North America in the winter of 2011.
The film premiered In Competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, where it was met with praise from film critics.
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. The film currently holds an approval rating of 76% on Rotten Tomatoes; the site's 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 received a score of 68 out of 100 based on 37 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."
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."
Awards and nominations
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- "We Need to talk About Kevin running time, production dates, budget". MovieInsider.com. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
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- McClintock, Paula (23 April 2010). "Ramsay rounds out 'Kevin' cast". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
- Arendt, Paul (6 June 2006). "Ramsay needs to shoot a film about Kevin". The Guardian. London: Guardian News & Media. p. 21 (G2 supplement).
- Kemp, Stuart (18 May 2008). "BBC Films has diverse slate". The Hollywood Reporter. Nielsen Business Media. Retrieved 18 May 2008.
- Thomas, Archie (3 October 2008). "Brit List brings scripts to light". Variety. Reed Business Information.
- Burgeson, John (30 March 2010). "In Stratford, sweet love drowns out sour weather". CT Post. Hearst Newspapers.
- Curtis, Nick (19 February 2010). "The women behind the British film industry". London Evening Standard. ES London. p. 27.
- "Awards Database: We Need to Talk About Kevin". UK Film Council. Retrieved 25 February 2010.
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- Dawtrey, Adam (22 April 2010). "The welcome return of Lynne Ramsay". London: guardian.co.uk (Guardian News & Media). Retrieved 22 April 2010.
- Dundas Wood, Mark (28 May 2010). "New York Production Listings". BackStage.com. Retrieved 30 May 2010.
- O'Connell, A.J. (1 August 2010). "Hollywood East: On location in Connecticut". The Hour. The Hour Publishing Co. Retrieved 3 August 2010.
- Kemp, Stuart (14 February 2011). "Radiohead's Johny Greenwood to Score 'We Need to Talk About Kevin' (Berlin)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
- Kay, Jeremy (22 October 2009). "Independent boards We Need To Talk About Kevin for AFM". ScreenDaily.com (Emap Media). Retrieved 22 October 2009.
- "We Need to Talk About Kevin: world exclusive trailer - video" (includes video clip). The Guardian. London. 12 August 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2011.
- "Cannes Showstopper 'We Need to Talk About Kevin' Picked up By Oscilloscope | /Film". Slashfilm.com. 24 May 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
- "Festival de Cannes - From 16 to 27 may 2012". Festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
- "BBC News - Cannes gets talking about British Kevin drama". bbc.co.uk. 12 May 2011. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
- We Need to Talk About Kevin at Box Office Mojo
- "We Need To Talk About Kevin Blu-Ray Gets A US Release Date". Retrieved 29 May 2012.
- We Need to Talk About Kevin at Rotten Tomatoes
- "We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)". Metacritic. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- Ebert, Roger (25 January 2012). "We Need to Talk About Kevin Movie Review (2012)". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
- Kermode, Mark (6 January 2012). "Eleven from Eleven". BBC Online. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
- Brody, Richard (November 2011). "We Need to Talk About Kevin". The New Yorker. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
- Martin, Jake. "We need to talk about We Need to Talk about Kevin". Busted Halo. Retrieved 23 December 2011.
- Thomson, David (8 March 2012). "Thomson on Film: A Movie About a School Shooting That Ignores the Shooter". The New Republic. Retrieved 25 May 2013.