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John C. Reilly Talks Lynne Ramsay's 'We Need To Talk About Kevin,' A Meditation On Parenthood

Photo of Christopher Bell By Christopher Bell | The Playlist February 7, 2011 at 5:02AM

2011 is quickly shaping up to be an exciting year for female-driven/directed pictures, with a wealth of great, intelligent options for people that are frankly sick of the overtly male-dominated market (or Katherine Heigl). Multiplexes will see Kristen Wiig lead an ensemble of funny ladies in "Bridesmaids," art house cinemas get Kelly Reichardt's dustbowl period piece "Meek's Cutoff," festivals continue to be graced by Slamdance-winner "Without," and hopefully the online community will see a glimpse of the Linda Cardellini war movie “Return” (hint hint), which has been compared to "Safe" and "A Woman Under The Influence.” Yowza.
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2011 is quickly shaping up to be an exciting year for female-driven/directed pictures, with a wealth of great, intelligent options for people that are frankly sick of the overtly male-dominated market (or Katherine Heigl). Multiplexes will see Kristen Wiig lead an ensemble of funny ladies in "Bridesmaids," art house cinemas get Kelly Reichardt's dustbowl period piece "Meek's Cutoff," festivals continue to be graced by Slamdance-winner "Without," and hopefully the online community will see a glimpse of the Linda Cardellini war movie “Return” (hint hint), which has been compared to "Safe" and "A Woman Under The Influence.” Yowza.

There's certainly something for all tastes, and hopefully the sheer number of promising pictures centering on strong female leads (above is only a small taste of what’s on its way) will allow more to populate the theaters. We’re especially looking forward to "We Need To Talk About Kevin," the third feature by Lynne Ramsay ("Ratcatcher," "Morvern Callar") starring Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly. After a slight hiccup in trying to helm "The Lovely Bones," Lynne focused her efforts on adapting Lionel Shriver’s novel for her third outing, which follows the mother (Swinton) of a teenage boy responsible for a Columbine-like school shooting. Certainly not sunshines and rainbows, but what else could be expected from the auteur given her previous oeuvre?

Mr. Reilly was kind enough to sit down with us during press rounds for "Cyrus" last year, and with "Cedar Rapids" hitting theaters later this week we thought now was a good time to share his insights to the film, relating his personal experience as a father to the project and how difficult it was to shake certain moments. "The movie starts in the present day and she's looking back at the history of the family and what happened. It's not necessarily the way it happened but the way she remembers it happening, so it's like slightly heightened reality when she looks back," Reilly explained. "It's kind of a meditation on parenthood and this idea that people have that just because it's your baby you're gonna have some automatic connection. Truth is, relationships, even with your own flesh and blood are things that evolve and have to be worked on."

Even though Reilly's children have not done something as unsettling as the titular character in the film, he managed to find a sort of common ground to work with. "All kids are similar in some ways," he said with a demeanor that somehow yielded both hopelessness and acceptance. "I've already done a lot of thinking on what it's like to be a father, what you can affect in a child's life and what you can't, what's nature and what's nurture... every parent has misgivings if they're honest with themselves, and they see certain moments in their kids' lives as missed opportunity. This guy I play tries to be an optimist for almost the whole story, and it's just one of the saddest things I've ever done when the moment comes where he realizes that he can't affect the kid the way he really wants to."

This is something that the veteran actor had trouble leaving behind, as its sentiment left a strong residue on him. "After I did that scene I couldn't stop crying, I was tearing up during it but afterwards... I'm like a vessel for these emotions for these people and some of them stick to you and it takes awhile for them to pass." Definitely sounds like a movie that'll put a knot in your chest, but really, given the synopsis, would it be wise to think differently?

"We Need To Talk About Kevin" does not have a set premiere date, though we've been predicting a Cannes premiere as her other two features have been brought into the world the same way. Fingers crossed, hopefully we'll be able to see this one sooner than later.

This article is related to: Films, Actors, Actresses, Lynne Ramsay, John C. Reilly, Tilda Swinton, We Need To Talk About Kevin


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