Critics, British ones especially, have fallen over themselves to praise We Need to Talk About Kevin, talented Scottish director Lynne Ramsay’s (Morvern Callar) first feature in nine years. They may have overdone it a little bit, though.
An artistically ambitious adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s bestseller, the film begins with disorienting snatches of a distressed Eva (Tilda Swinton) rebuilding her life in a US suburb in the aftermath of an unspeakable event, the nature of which is gradually revealed. These are interspersed with flashbacks to her previous life as mother to the monstrous Kevin (Ezra Miller, as a teenager), who does nothing she says, poops his pants to spite her, and may or may not be responsible for slaughtering the pet guinea pig and blinding his sister in one eye.
Whether it’s Eva’s lack of a maternal instinct or Kevin’s diabolical nature that’s to blame is always left admirably ambiguous. The film is full of rich, carefully realized imagery — even if Kevin’s sucking on an eyeball-like lychee while discussing his sister’s blinding seems a visual metaphor too far. But it’s debatable whether its art-house treatment of what is essentially a devil-child horror setup yields sufficiently compelling results. Late intimations of a faint, chilling redemption, however, provide some redress.
Another novel take
Taken from another high-profile novel — by Jonathan Safran Foer — Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close features newcomer Thomas Horn as a hyper-intelligent nine-year-old searching New York for the owner of a key he finds among the possessions of his beloved father (Tom Hanks), who perished in the 9/11 attacks. Sandra Bullock and Max von Sydow also star in Billy Elliot director Stephen Daldry’s film.
In Contraband Mark Wahlberg plays a retired virtuoso smuggler forced to abandon his quiet New Orleans life with wife Kate Beckinsale to assemble a team for one last run to Panama after his brother-in-law falls afoul of a ruthless kingpin. A remake of the 2008 Icelandic thriller Reykjavík-Rotterdam, it’s directed by that film’s star, Baltasar Kormákur.
Merging those two now old horror staples, the found-footage movie and demonic possession — and not for the first time — The Devil Inside concerns a young woman who gets involved with two rogue exorcist priests as she investigates the case of her mother, imprisoned for three brutal murders 20 years before.
Also out, Spanish romantic comedy La montaña rusa stars Verónica Sánchez, Alberto San Juan and Ernesto Alterio as three old childhood friends who begin a ménage à trois after reencountering one another.