Lionel Shriver’s 2003 book We Need To Talk About Kevin is a somewhat unconventional thriller, in that it’s an epistolary novel, or written as a series of letters from Eva Khatchadourian, the titular Kevin’s mother, to her estranged husband Franklin. (I’ve always wanted to write an epistolary novel but I could never afford the postage.) The book, Shriver’s seventh, was adapted for radio by the BBC in 2008, and ran as a series of 10 15-minute episodes that ran every day as part of the Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour drama series. (For those wondering, Lionel Shriver was born Margaret Ann Shriver.)
BBC Films acquired the rights to a film adaptation as long ago as 2005, but various financing snafus and development staved off the start of actual production until 2010. Autor Shriver was offered a consultative role, but declined, stating that she “had it up to [her] eyeballs with that book.”
The Saratoga Film Forum is showing We Need to Talk About Kevin this weekend, with screenings last night (sorry for the late post; it’s been “one of those weeks”...), tonight at 7:30, and Sunday at 3:00.
Without giving away too much—no “spoiler alerts” here—I suspect bits of this film will be rough viewing in light of certain recent events, and the film will likely stimulate no small amount of discussion (which we like; that’s what we’re here for!). An interesting review I came across on Busted Halo, “an online magazine for spiritual seekers,” written by Jake Martin, a Jesuit priest and movie critic, said:
Kevin is a story of hope for a new millennium, an It’s a Wonderful Life in the age of school shootings and planes crashing into buildings — a world-weary world that has been bombarded by nihilistic themes in their narratives for the better part of a century. It is a world where any attempts to offer a message of mercy, conversion and redemption must be done deftly and authentically, because at the end of the day, sometimes the community won’t rally around you and more often than not Mr. Potter carries the day.
The reviewer concludes:
We Need to Talk about Kevin in fact needs to be talked about, as what it is attempting to do by marrying the darkest, most nihilistic components of contemporary cinema with a redemptive message is groundbreaking.
It bears mentioning that, despite the title, the film is not about Kevin so much as it is about Eva and her deteriorating state of mind.