One of the films I've been looking forward to the most from this year's Cannes line-up comes from Scottish director Lynne Ramsay, whose last feature film - Movern Callar - hit theaters back in 2002. She returns this year with We Need to Talk About Kevin, an adaptation of Lionel Shriver's acclaimed novel about a woman dealing with the aftermath when her son goes on a Columbine-style rampage. It's the sort of subject matter that doesn't promise easy viewing, or easy answers, as issues of parenting undoubtedly come into play (along with the ever-tricky nature vs. nurture debate). However, by shedding large chunks of the text in favor of her more impressionistic style, Ramsay's film was received as a most welcome return after nearly 10 years:
**A good number of these will be different reviews that those cited in the original post.
The Guardian - Peter Bradshaw: (4/5 stars) "...a skin-peelingly intimate character study and a brilliantly nihilist, feminist parable." "Producer-star Tilda Swinton brings her A-game to the role of Eva."
Salon.com - Andrew O'Hehir: (N/A) "Indeed, there are so many great things happening on almost every level of this movie, from Swinton's haunting, magnetic, and tremendously vulnerable performance...to the many unsettling individual moments."
The London Evening Standard - Derek Malcolm: (N/A) "Without Swinton, often seen in close-up, the film might have sunk without trace under the weight of its morbid subject matter."
Movie Line - Stephanie Zacharek: (N/A) "The filmmaking is extraordinary; it's the story that gets in the way." "Swinton is terrific - this is one of her less mannered performances."
Variety - Leslie Felperin: (N/A) "...Swinton delivers a concrete-hard central perf that's up there with her best work."
The Telegraph - Sukhdev Sandhu: (4/4 stars) "...with no resolution or redemption on offer, it's remarkable how easily Ramsay sustains our interest right to the very end."
Digital Spy - Simon Reynolds: (N/A) "This is a bleak and traumatic drama marked by a blistering performance from Swinton."
Rope of Silicon - Brad Brevet: (B+) "Haunting, sophisticated, and rippling with tension." "Once it begins, you're in Ramsay's hands, and it doesn't take more than a minute for her to gain a tight grip."
InContention.com - Guy Lodge: (4/4 stars) "If We Need to Talk About Kevin is to be labeled any one person's triumph, however, it must be Lynne Ramsay's."
Additional Comments: Critics praise the craft of the film, with standouts going to Seamus McGarvey's cinemtography and the sound design. Ezra Miller and the two other actors who play Kevin all earn praise, and are compared to non-supernatural Damiens. Some are unsure about some of the soundtrack choices and/or parts of Jonny Greenwood's score. John C. Reilly's limited role is given generally positive, but slight, notices.
Cannes Verdict: A harrowing and mature drama with an excellent performance from Tilda Swinton that marks a welcome return for Lynne Ramsay.