Release Date: September 4, 2011 (First U.S. Festival Release Date)
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Stars: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller
Runtime: 112 min
[I’ve written about this over at http://themovieguideblog.wordpress.com/, but I wanted to post it on here, too!]
This film is wonderfully adapted from a fairly overlooked novel of the same name, by Lionel Shriver.
Eva (Tilda Swinton) once had a nice job and a good life, until Kevin (Rock Duer, toddler; Jasper Newell, 6-8 Years; Ezra Miller, Teenager) came along. Eva has seemed to resent Kevin ever since he was born. She has struggled to love her child because of the strange and constantly vicious things he does. And her husband, Franklin (John C. Reilly), is completely oblivious to Kevin’s actions, stating that he’s only a typical boy doing what young boys do. The recent “incident” though, won’t help her situation, and ultimately haunt both her and the community.
The general plot is really good, not extremely memorable, but really good; the real memorable aspect of this film is the way that it is told. The timeline is both past and present, but it’s done very well so you won’t get lost often.
The only flaw the film possesses, and the reason I can’t give it a perfect score, is the beginning. It’s not that the beginning is completely bad; it’s just that I hardly knew what the hell was going on. It’s only like that for the first ten minutes, though; and then I started to adjust and understand what was going on.
W.N.T.T.A.K. offers a stylish low-key disturbing experience. The psychology of it is pretty fascinating, too. The whole nature (genetics) vs. nurture (environment one grows up in & one’s experiences) psychology theory works well into here; because Eva was into that whole drug crowd when she was pregnant with Kevin; and he grew up in an environment where he felt unloved by his mother and his father was oblivious to his actions, and he used the “Hey, buddy” approach.
The storytelling was interesting, and disturbing too, because some scenes hinted at what he [Kevin] did but you couldn’t tell for sure, and he was in a juvenile detention facility so you could definitely tell it was bad. Some of it was shocking, too, and it was definitely effective. Eva also stayed in the town because she felt she was somehow responsible for Kevin’s actions, even with all of the hatred shown against her after the incident; yet, she still faced it. Henceforth, suggesting she’s a strong-willed character; despite her constant fright in the community. She is also beautifully performed by Tilda Swinton, in the finest performance I have seen her in, and she’s another actress who has been overlooked for an Oscar nomination (boy, it was a good year for performances).
I liked how the film was ambiguous of who the antagonist was. Some people may feel that it was more the mother’s fault, and she just wasn’t trying hard to enough to love or appreciate Kevin; and some would have felt that the antagonist was Kevin because he was just so increasingly vicious. I felt Kevin was more the antagonist here, but Eva did offer antagonistic traits, too.
John C. Reilly played Franklin really well, because his voice makes him seem like the nice guy. The character may have been generally oblivious to the surroundings, and he was used well in this flick.
Don’t be mistaken by the cover art, it may look like it passes itself off as a horror flick, but it isn’t. It has thrilling elements though, but it is mostly a dramatic and disturbing flick. The film is definitely often Omen-esque; but it is effective, and I felt Kevin was even creepier than little Damien from those Omen flicks.
I also very much recommend you check out the Behind-the-Scenes of KEVIN special feature (if it’s available to you). It adds further insight onto the film and the character and mind of Kevin. I thought it was really interesting.
The film stars Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller, Rock Duer, Jasper Newell, Ashley Gerasimovich (as Eva and Franklin’s daughter, Celia) and Siobhan Fallon.
W.N.T.T.A.K. is a low-key disturbing experience; that offers a great and memorable story. The direction offered by Ramsay is great, and has made me interested to check out her other projects. It definitely is my favourite lower budget film of 2011, and is my favourite disturbing and deeply thematic 2011 film (that I can think of). It’s really quite thought-provoking, and offers a unique experience that really should be checked out.
– Daniel Prinn