....I didn't even reach the one hundredth page of the book. Which, given my reading prowess, is not that bad. But I found it to be a difficult read. So, as I like the easy way out, it was interesting to see this award winning book released as a film - this way, I could sit through images...much easier for me to digest - I'm a pictures man after all!
The director, Lynne Ramsay, has done a wonderful job. There are trademarks to be seen, as in her previous films, Morvern Callar and Ratcatcher, meaning it can be a difficult watch - but deliberately and effectively so. Juttering camera, in & out of focus, intense close-ups, long pauses. But in the context of the subject matter, they all have their place, adding to the uncomfortable intensity.
Eva & son, Kevin
The opening scene, of billowing curtains, is exquisite. Like a Vermeer painting. It sets a tone for the rest of the film - both in the picture quality but also by raising questions from the viewer - what is beyond the curtain? And, do I really want to know? The second scene grabs the senses, with more vivid colour, noise and detail. The drenched colour reminding me of the Richter portrait, Betty, that I saw for the first time on Monday.
Most people know the subject matter of this book - unfortunately it's a relatively familiar one - particularly in the U.S. But whilst we know the outcome, it is the relationship between Tilda Swinton, (Eva) and Ezra Miller, (Kevin) that is the main feature here.
The time altering scenes focus on Eva's struggle to raise Kevin - to love him, but also the struggle with her guilt in the aftermath of the incident. Whether Kevin is a difficult child that is difficult to love, or a difficult child because he knows he's unloved, is hard to tell.
Kevin's intelligent, yet anti-social behaviour comes to a head, and the act in which this is portrayed, is clinical as it is brutal. Clinical too in its isolation of Eva - as though intended to highlight her guilt, (be it right or wrong). It also means that she is the only one able to pick up the pieces afterwards.
The film is scored by Johnny Greenwood, alongside the use of familiar tracks from the 50s & 60s, that together provide quite an unsettling, if at times familiar, musical accompaniment.
A challenging film, but captivating and rewarding, of sorts, too. The acting is intense, but brilliant and through colour and texture the direction & cinematography have created a haunting picture.