Film is a visual medium, an excellent vehicle for the communication of ideas through images. Really, it’s a tool and I’d like to suggest there is a tremendous amount of responsibility given to anyone who wields that tool.
Take for instance a knife, (a pocketknife, a machete, a sword) it’s a tool, it can help construct/provide shelter, obtain and prepare goods for a meal, provide activities for pastime, for sport, and even self-defense . If you intend to carry this tool you have to know, what uses you can and are okay with using it for. Also you have to be prepared for your response to whichever of those circumstances may arise.
I think filmmakers have a certain responsibility to their audience in a similar way. It makes me consider what I want to do, what I should do with my training at VFS. Film can inspire, uplift, comfort, discomfort, frighten, and educate, and even more . I am struck with the intense sense of responsibility that I have in wielding this tool.
I never want to abuse my audience, but sometimes it may be necessary to discomfort them to make a point. I am not sure where that line is. There have been films, even some I’ve seen this year, that I felt abused it’s audience. There were others that discomforted me greatly, and provoked me to consider what and why they were so discomforting. What is the filmmaker’s point? What should I come away from this with? How does it change my understanding and perspective as a person?
What brings this on?
I’ve recently seen a film that I can’t get out of my head, and I am not sure if it’s abuse or discomfort I’ve been trying to sort through.
We Need To Talk About Kevin by filmmaker Lynne Ramsay is not something to take flippantly. In fact, I highly suggest careful consideration, and research about the film before you decide to watch it. And whatever you do, make sure you watch it with someone, someone you trust who will give you time to talk it over afterwards. If you don’t have that, I’d recommend a pass on this one.
Kevin is a well made film. It is something to watch if you want to get started talking about important things and what our response to them should be. A wide range of topics for discussion could be drawn from the film. Parenting, postpartum depression, ambition, sacrifice, discipline, grief and community, abuse, sex, the educational system, gun control, disability, responsibility, manipulation, I could go on here, but I won’t.
This film is well cast. Tilda Swinton, as always is beautiful, driven and precise. Ezra Miller and younger Kevins are disturbingly good. John C. Riley is warm, and loving.
What I am stuck with is the imagery in this film, the tiresome use of the color red in everything, crushed tomatoes, teddy bear, a ball, stop sign, paint, jam, blood (of course) and on and on. Also the use of the sprinklers a couple of times, viewpoints, expressions, and so much more. This film is beautifully shot, it really is. But I think it’s too much. It’s like a wonderful traditional American Thanksgiving dinner with all the stuff, it’s all wonderful, too wonderful, I’ve feasted and it’s made me sick.
A set of scenes that mirror each other has really got me reeling. In once scene when Eva visits Kevin in prison, Kevin pulls his fingernail clippings out from between his teeth and lines them up on the table in a neat row. In another scene Eva, after she has been bullied (I don’t what else to call it ) in the grocery store where a distressed woman, affected by Kevin’s actions breaks the eggs in Eva’s shopping basket (poetic) while she is hiding behind a shelf of tomato soup (back to reds here, and the tomato soup festival that we keep flashing back to) picks the white shells cooked with her eggs from her between teeth and lines them up on her plate in a neat row.
I don’t know what to do with this, maybe you do… help me out here.
The beautiful and poetic imagery keeps bringing me back to the tough stuff, and I don’t know how to reconcile all of it. I’ve thought about this film every day since seeing it. I am not sure what to do with it. I am glad to have a friend who watched it with me and to talk about it with. Without that, I think I’d be crazy.
I really just want to say to all my friends and filmmakers, this is a sharp and dangerous tool, let’s use it with discernment, always for good, even if it does inflict a little pain. Like a physician taking the Hippocratic oath, “Above all else do no harm”….