Friday, December 02, 2011

We Need to Talk about Kevin was disappointing

I saw We Need to Talk About Kevin a few days ago with my literature class and I was thoroughly disappointed. Of course, I had very high expectations, which is always a problem when the film is based on one of your favorite books. You construct a mental painting of how you think the scenes will be presented, what the characters will look like and what bit of the storyline the director will cruelly cut out.

Well out of these three things, they got one right: The casting was fantastic. Tilda Swinton who played Eva Khatchadourian and up and coming actor Ezra Miller who played Kevin, portrayed the characters to such perfect precision (although I did wonder who's bright idea was it to cast comedic actor John C. Reilly as Franklin in such a serious role--to say it didn't work would be an understatement).

The main problem I had was how they butchered the storyline. First of all: The novel is over 400 pages long, there was no need to make up new scenes. The extended opening scene where Eva is drowning within a claustrophobic crowd drenched with tomato juice is unnecessary--in the novel it was only a memory. The scene where Eva is interviewed for her position at Nyack Travel Agency is also unnecessary--it's not depicted in the book for a reason. There were more scenes that either extended brief, insignificant moments in the book or just made up scenes.

Another gripe I had was the character cutting. Lenny, Kevin's best friend in the novel was completely written out. Why? He was also the driving force behind the novel's most sexually hilarious scene where both Kevin and Lenny accuse their drama teacher of sexual harassment, which was written out. I had heard that the film was going to be approached as a thriller, and yes it did have some sensibilities of a thriller, however the most poignant and significant point of the novel where Kevin murders his classmates is scattered throughout the film, but not him doing the actual deed but the aftermath.

The way the story transpired through the film was incredibly tedious and if anything flawed. The novel is told using the epistolary form as a series of memories, however the film flicking back and forth constantly was confusing--especially you were watching having not read the book. I think it would have been a more enjoyable film if they had stuck to the storyline--beginning with Eva's run in with Mary Woolford (the mother of one of the kids that Kevin murders) at the mall and transpired as an extended flashback, as what happens when the film wasn't in flashback mode was the most boring, pointless, insignificant plot filler ever.

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