We Need to Talk About Kevin
A suspenseful and gripping psychological thriller, Lynne Ramsay's WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN explores the fractious relationship between a mother and her evil son. Tilda Swinton, in a bracing, tour-de-force performance, plays the mother, Eva, as she contends for 15 years with the increasing malevolence of her first-born child, Kevin (Ezra Miller).
Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN explores nature vs. nurture on a whole new level as Eva's own culpability is measured against Kevin's innate evilness. Ramsay's masterful storytelling simultaneously combines a provocative moral ambiguity with a satisfying and compelling narrative, which builds to a chilling, unforgettable climax.
Oscilloscope Laboratories presents Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin on Blu-ray in the aspect ratio of about 2.35:1 on a dual-layer disc. The transfer is presented in 1080p/24hz.
Not surprisingly, as a newer film, it looks great on the format. It’s very stylish, with heavy editing, a great use of colour, and creative lighting, and the transfer handles it all incredibly well. Red is a fairly dominate colour in the film (possibly a not-so-subtle touch on Ramsay’s part,) like the opening where Swinton’s character is at a tomato festival, and they’re absolutely pure in their presentation here. Black levels are also deep and rich, and details don’t appear to get lost. The image remains sharp with clearly defined edges, and I can’t recall an instance where it goes soft.
The film has some complicated movements but the transfer handles it all well and I didn’t notice any motion artifacts. The print also looks clean with nary a blemish present. Again not a surprise for such a new film but the transfer looks wonderful here.
(The second disc is a DVD presenting a standard definition transfer that looks similar to the Blu-ray, but still nowhere near as rich in its colour rendering.)
The lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track has a lot of activity going on in it. Dialogue sticks primarily to the fronts but there are plenty of moments where whispers surround the viewer or moments where someone can be heard talking or calling out from the rear speakers. Other sound effects and music also surround the viewer consistently. Panning and movements between the speakers is sharp and natural, and there’s subtle use of the bass. Sound quality is excellent, dialogue clear and articulate, never overrun by any other activity that appears in the track. A wonderful mix and presentation.
Supplements are a little slim but they’re worth going through. First is a talking-heads “making-of” called Behind the Scenes of Kevin. Coming in at 27-minutes it gathers together those involved with the production, including Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller, director Lynne Ramsay, and others. They go over the difficulty of financing the film, the casting, and the actual shoot, as well as its reception. Swinton, Reilly, and Miller talk about their own take on their chracters, with Reilly going into detail about the general difficulty at times because the scenes were from Swinton’s character’s perspective, which may not have been entirely truthful. There are also some interesting details about the look of the film, the colours, and the editing. There’s actually quite a bit of material in here, and I enjoyed that most everyone did talk about the film’s themes without holding back, but it’s still a fairly standard “making-of”.
There is extra footage taken from “La tomatina” Tomato Festival in Spain, which is scattered about the film. Here we get just over 4-minutes worth of raw footage, which is presented without audio.
The best feature on here would probably have to be an 18-minute Q&A session with Tilda Swinton, filmed in 2011 at the 38th Telluride Film Festival. Here she talks about her career, particularly about working with Derek Jarman, and the impact of losing him and others within the close group to AIDs. She also talks about the other filmmakers she’s worked with, like Jim Jarmusch, and her Hollywood work, which she doesn’t find all that different from the independent work she’s done, there’s just more toys to play with (for the record, she doesn’t consider Michael Claytone or Burn After Reading “Hollywood” films; she uses the term for more effects heavy fare, like Benjamin Button and the Narnia film she was in.) It’s a great interview/Q&A and it’s a shame it feels so short.
There’s also a short interview with author Lionel Shriver, who of course wrote the novel on which the film was based. In the 4-minute segment shot quickly at the premiere of the film she talks a little about her involvement in the project, which was minimal: her big contribution was that she talked Ramsay out of using voice overs, which would mimic the narrative structure of the book, because she felt it was uncinematic. Otherwise she had no involvement in the film. She also talks about how she came to write the book and also talks a little about Ramsay’s actual adaptation. I’m not familiar with the book so this offered a little insight into the novel and the differences.
Oscilloscope then throws in the film’s original theatrical trailer and then a short essay by Mark Stafford.
There isn’t much and it all feels pretty rudimentary, but they’re all worth going through with Swinton’s interview being a very strong addition to the release.
Supplements are fairly standard overall, the Swinton interview being the strongest item, but the presentation is superb, delivering an excellent video transfer and an incredibly immersive audio experience. For the presentation alone it comes highly recommended.