So. 1: Tilda Swinton did not need to be in Doctor Strange because she is a damn good actress. I’ve now seen her in Okja (dir. Bong Joon-Ho) and this. And this movie is how I know she’s amazing.
2: This movie leaves a person feeling disturbed. But ever since my first international cinema class, I learned that I love movies that do that to me. Cache (dir. Michael Haneke) is the first film we watched in that course, and I left feeling highly unsettled and not sure about how to articulate why. The movies in the course were not escapist. One didn’t leave feeling ready to take on the next moment of the day. As a film student, you felt energized by the sheer feat that existed on the screen. As a person, you felt exhausted and the world felt…different. Another example is Breaking the Waves (dir. Lars Von Trier). I know the body has physical reactions to emotions from my experience watching this movie. When the main character dies, my heart literally felt as if it was being grabbed from my chest. Those are my kind of movies. This movie was like that. My mom’s verdict: “That was good. It was a little weird too.”
3: The shots, the shots, the shots. The way the director, Lynne Ramsay, composed the frames made each second gorgeous. Beyond that and what really contributed to the film was how she built up tension through the length of time she spent on the character’s faces, mainly Eva (Tilda Swinton). She conveyed extremely well how lonely Eva was, even when she had her whole family together. An image that stood out for me was when she took Kevin to the doctor to check on whether or not he had autism. The doctor was speaking, and then the camera turned itself to Tilda. She was on the far right of the screen and there was doctor equipment that filled the remainder of the screen almost worked to keep her in the corner. The editing too. Ah. Flawless. It was easy to understand the timeline. Tilda’s switch of hairstyle did help with this, but the scenes themselves were sufficient. Granted, it probably would have been more confusing had her hairstyle remained the same the whole time.
4: Motifs and pay-offs. Overall, the film was very quiet. The music came in with lyrics that related to Eva’s situation. A song near the end sings about being an orphan, which fits her new life. The pay-offs for the storyline were always set up. The were set up through introduction of something or a shot. For example, Kevin buys the locks for his school. His mom, dad, and he all have a conversation about the locks. The audience later sees Kevin putting the locks on the door of his school- not selling them as he said he would. And then when Eva is rushing to the school, she looks for Kevin. He’s nowhere to be found and then she reaches the front of the line. From there, she can see Kevin’s locks on the door. She’s still. Another pay-off is her calls to Franklin. He’s not answering, and the audience can attribute it to how their relationship is rocky. Yet, by the time all of the events have transpired and Eva reaches her home and is calling for her family, its clear something is wrong. Its then obvious to the watcher than Franklin probably would not have let the whole day pass without returning his wife’s call. When Franklin and Celia are found outside, the audience expects it because of the previous set-up. Those were done so well. This movie just had an overall sense of meticulousness in its planning and execution.
5: In addition to Tilda Swinton’s performance, the rest of the actors were fabulous as well. Young, middle, and eldest Kevin’s all were believable. What exactly the movie is trying to say about people like Kevin or the whole situation present, I don’t know. Maybe it’s more about the family surrounding him? It’s one of those films that raises the question for you and lets you continue to think about it on your own.