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(R) Lionel Shriver’s terrifying epistolary novel is brought to the big screen in an almost entirely different form by filmmaker Lynne Ramsay (Ratcatcher and Morvern Callar). A mother, Eva Khatchadourian (Tilda Swinton, in a Golden Globe nominated performance), struggles to rebuild her life amid flashbacks to raising her sociopathic son, Kevin. Ramsay foregoes Shriver’s letter structure, not lazily relying on voiceovers as most adapters would, but goes a bit overboard with the symbolism; does it really take two shots of Eva washing red paint from her hands to get the blood on her hands point across? The film offers a lot less insight into Eva, Kevin and mostly clueless husband/father Franklin (John C. Reilly) than the novel but successfully captures the loneliness of a mother whose bad seed proves far more than just distant and cold thanks to the tandem performances of Swinton and Ezra Miller/Jasper Newell/Rock Duer, who play Kevin as a teen, at 6-8 years and as a toddler (possibly the toughest task). If only the super-fragmented film—the first 15-20 minutes are more chore than hook—drew the audience in as readily and completely as its literary precursor.


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