The leather-faced French guards who reinforce the ID-badge class system at every door of the Palais are getting older and older — I feel like I’ve seen these same faces since they looked like young Rat Packers, and now they look like Florida retirees. But what doesn’t get old is the hope/anticipation that the next film, or the next, or maybe the next will be a spectacular discovery. And so we push and elbow like soccer hoodlums at stadium gates to claim our seats. We’re poker-faced about it, never acknowledging the animal ferocity within even the gentlest lady critic. But we’re also hellbent, that’s how much we love le cinema.
“Spectacular discovery” wouldn’t be my phrase for We Need To Talk About Kevin but “virtuoso horror pic” comes close. This brilliantly made, much talked about movie is, at heart, an unrelenting, post-Columbine, scare-the-parents cautionary tale, adapted from Lionel Shriver’s hot-button 2003 bestselling novel about an ambivalent, guilt-ridden mother and an evil, bad-seed son. (Some of my esteemed critic friends fault the movie for being too… well, I don’t know what, I think one of the words used was “claustrophobic.” At dinner, I disagreed.) At any rate, there’s no doubt that Scottish filmmaker Lynne Ramsey has conjured a stunning adaptation, starring Tilda Swinton (pictured) balancing on a razor’s edge and Ezra Miller (City Island) wreaking havoc with star-making intensity. Ramsay was originally attached to the movie adaptation of The Lovely Bones and, born for the material, she would have made something astonishing. Never mind. I’m thrilled to see one of my favorite directors back at work — and at Cannes –after too many years away. Run to check out Ratcatcher and Morvern Callar and see what I mean. Ramsay is an original, with a strong vision and a powerful visual vocabulary.