Parent abuse wasn’t the first thing I expected when I picked up We need to talk about Kevin, particularly as the friend who recommended it had suggested he thought I would enjoy it. Lionel Shriver’s much applauded book superbly captures the complex family dynamics, the sense of bewilderment and anguish of a flawed but utterly believable mother, desperate for answers and resolution after her teenage son is involved in a high school massacre.
Needless to say, parent abuse isn’t one of the most discussed themes, but as the narrative moves we see the complex power relationships developing as “mummy’s little monster” exerts his manipulating influence. Is it nature or nurture we are constantly asked with, naturally, no clear answers even by the end. Of course the various characters and relationships play their part, but then many children face similar dysfunction in their lies without the consequences we see here.
Now we are to be treated to Lynne Ramsay’s adaptation of the novel, in the film released this Thursday, 21st October. The Guardian has some excellent reviews, and an interview with Tilda Swinton, who plays Eva magnificently. I am quite possibly the most squeamish person you will ever know when it comes to the cinema, but I am assured that the film is much more than a visual retelling of the story; and the magnificent Swinton will be the reason I am at the front of the queue!