Most helpful critical review
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 30 April 2012
We Need To Talk About Kevin is hard to judge as a film in its own right. Most viewers will have at least some idea of what is ahead of them, even if they haven't read the book. But, to be honest, most will have read the book. And we need to agree, up front, that the book is one of the most powerful, arresting and complex movels in the past decade.
So, to try to take the film on its own merits is a bit of a fool's errand. For most viewers, it cannot exist in isolation. And for those few who come at it genuinely fresh I can imagine it is very confusing. The basic plot - which people on mard may not yet know - is thatKevin Katchadourian is a schoolkid who has shot his classmates, is in prison and his mother has been left to pick up the pieces.
Anyway, one of the fundamental differences between film and book is that whereas the book is full of words; the film is almost silent. Where we had letters and justifications and pontification; deep descriptions and feelings in the novel, we are left with silent screenshots and sparse dialogue. There is no interior monologue and, pretty as some of the screenshots are, they convey little meaning. The viewer is supposed to keep track of the three principal strands of story through the length of Eva's hair. Eva's backstory (setting up her own, hippy travel guide company) is compressed into a single scene of throwing tomatoes at a festival. Kevin's father and sister are just cardboard cut outs. Kevin in jail has nothing to say.
The film simply presents an evil boy who does evil things - with a rather unconvincing evil grin on his face. There is no sense of alienation; no questions raised about whether Eva created the monster; no questions about whether the bond between Eva and Kevin was one of love or contempt. The answers in the film are too easy, based on evidence that is too impenetrable - if that isn't a contradiction. The film is too short and utterly the wrong medium to tell the story. Not every novel - however well it sells - works as a film.
This is not a good adaptation and what little merit the film has is a pale reflection of the quality of the book.