We Need to Talk About Kevin triumphs at London Film Festival

Critics reward Lynne Ramsay's interpretation of Lionel Shriver's novel.

The cinematic adaptation of Lionel Shriver's 2003 novel We Need to Talk About Kevin has been named Best Film at the London Film Festival Awards.

Reviewing the film for the New Statesman, Ryan Gilbey wrote:

Readers of Shriver's novel were divided between those who saw the character as a monster and those who distrusted his mother's control of the novel. It's this tension the picture exploits, rather skilfully.

Starring Tilda Swinton, John C Reilly and Ezra Miller, the film recounts the events leading up to a high-school massacre and was directed by Glaswegian Lynne Ramsay. John Maddon, chair of the jury, described the film as "a sublime, uncompromising tale of the torment that can stand in the place of love". It was singled out ahead of a strong shortlist which included Terrence Davis's The Deep Blue Sea and Michel Hazanavicius' The Artist.

Ramsay, whose previous films include Ratcatcher and Morvern Callar, is no stranger to awards having previously been the recipient of two Cannes Prix de Jury prizes. She was hailed by Tanya Seghatchian, head of the BFI Film Fund, as "one of the great cinematic visionaries". We Need to Talk About Kevin is her third full-length feature.

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Hillary and the Viking: dramatising life with the Clintons

August radio should be like a corkboard, with a few gems pinned here and there. Heck, Don’t Vote for Him is one.

Now is the season of repeats and stand-in presenters. Nobody minds. August radio ought to be like a corkboard – things seemingly long pinned and faded (an Angela Lansbury doc on Radio 2; an adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s The Professor on Radio 4 Extra) and then the occasional bright fragment. Like Martha Argerich playing Liszt’s Piano Concerto No 1 at the Albert Hall (Prom 43, 17 August).

But on Radio 4, two new things really stand out. An edition of In the Criminologist’s Chair (16 August, 4pm) in which the former bank robber (and diagnosed psychopath) Noel “Razor” Smith recalls, among other memorable moments, sitting inside a getaway car watching one of his fellows “kissing his bullets” before loading. And three new dramas imagining key episodes in the Clintons’ personal and political lives.

In the first (Heck, Don’t Vote for Him, 6 August, 2.30pm), Hillary battles with all the “long-rumoured allegations of marital infidelity” during the 1992 Democratic primaries. Fenella Woolgar’s (brilliant, unburlesqued) Hillary sounds like a woman very often wearing a fantastically unhappy grin, watching her own political ambitions slip through her fingers. “I deserve something,” she appeals to her husband, insisting on the position of attorney general should he make it to the top – but “the Viking” (his nickname at college, due to his great head of hair) is off, gladhanding the room. You can hear Woolgar’s silent flinch, and picture Hillary’s face as it has been these past, disquieting months, very clearly.

I once saw Bill Clinton speak at a community college in New Jersey during the 2008 Obama campaign. Although disposed not to like him, I found his wattage, without question, staggering. Sweeping through the doors of the canteen, he amusedly removed the microphone from the hands of the MC (a local baseball star), switched it off, and projected for 25 fluent minutes (no notes). Before leaving he turned and considered the smallest member of the audience – a cross-legged child clutching a picture book of presidents. In one gesture, Clinton flipped it out of the boy’s hands, signed the cover – a picture of Lincoln – and was gone.

Antonia Quirke is an author and journalist. She is a presenter on The Film Programme and Pick of the Week (Radio 4) and Film 2015 and The One Show (BBC 1). She writes a column on radio for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 28 July 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Summer Double Issue