ByPaul Donovan, writer at
A jerk with an opinion. An explorer of transgressive cinema. See more things about movies at
Paul Donovan

Damn. Just damn.

1. This nihilistic gut-punch was one of the best films of 2012.

2. It's hard to categorize this movie. You could classify it as horror, in which case this is the best of the "bad seed" sub-genre, about a Boy With Problems. But that's not really the focus of the film. I would call it a "domestic tragedy thriller".

3. Tilda Swinton gives one of the best best performances of her life as Eva, a mother struggling with the consequences of a terrible event (we are not told at the beginning what that event is), and who blames herself for it.

4. The film is brilliantly told from Eva's point of view. She is so traumatized that her mind jumps between the present moment, fractured memories of past events, and a dreamy depression which presents the worst elements of her horror in lurid symbols.

5. One of the things that sets this movie far above others of this genre is the script. It's so sparse that there are entire scenes where nobody talks. You get everything from facial expressions and body language.

6. Improbably, the ugly nature of the story is actually emphasized by the beautiful cinematography. Almost every scene is a piece of art. Even the bad parts.

7. This movie is not recommended for women who are pregnant or who hope to become pregnant. The movie is excruciating to watch at times, but not because it's bad. It's because it's too painful to watch a mother try to find an explanation for what has been happening to her - or to find hope that her life is not just a black hole of cruel pointlessness.

8. Ezra Miller is a crazygood (yes, crazygood) actor, well known on the indie scene. He was 17 when he made this film, playing the teenage version of the title character. I don't know what allowed him to reach the parts of himself necessary to make this movie, but he got there, and he burned himself into my brain. I know he's broken into the mainstream now, playing The Flash in Batman v Superman and the following Justice League movies; but to me, he will probably always be Kevin.

9. This is a soul-crushing perspective on realistic events. The movie shows you real horror, frustration, guilt, helplessness, and shame. You may need time to recover after watching this one.


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