I should preface this post by saying that Lynne Ramsay is one of my favorite film directors. Before last year’s much talked about We Need to Talk About Kevin (particularly at Cannes where it premiered), the Scottish director only had two feature films to her credit: the gritty yet beautiful Ratcatcher from 1999 and an even more beautifully shot, cult film Morvern Callar from 2002, whose soundtrack is hands down my favorite soundtrack of all time with tracks by Broadcast, Boards of Canada, Aphex Twin, Lee Hazlewood, the Mamas & the Papas, Stereolab, and Can.

Although I was not introduced to Ramsay’s work until 2008, I’ve been waiting for her return to the big screen. After her plans to direct The Lovely Bones fell through (the project went to Peter Jackson in the end), Ramsay began working on a film adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s best-selling novel We Need to Talk About Kevin. 

In the film, which is scored by Radiohead’s Johnny Greenwood, Ramsay follows a grieving mother’s journey to cope with her son’s murderous high school rampage and its aftermath. A series of flashbacks chronicles the disconnected relationship between mother and son from birth and to present day; we also witness the psychological development of a serial killer.

Tilda Swinton is fantastic in her role as Eva Khatchadourian, who begrudgingly gives up her freedom to have a child, and newcomer Ezra Miller is a convincing teenage sociopath, bringing to mind the equally creepy Benny from Michael Haneke’s Benny’s Video, who without giving too much away also comes from a middle-class background and commits a senseless murder. The cinematography and especially Ramsay’s use of color, is stunning and foreboding as Ramsay opens the film with Eva participating in La Tomatina. For those familiar with Morvern Callar, I also noticed a few similarities, in particular the grocery store scene and Ramsay’s focus on a character’s wordless, internal struggle. At the end of the film, I was rightfully disturbed but not blown away as I had been with Morvern Callar or Ratcatcher. It’s still a solid film that I would definitely recommend watching, once you’ve seen the other two.

Check out a couple of scenes from Ramsay’s other films and an interview with Ramsay discussing her next project, a science fiction film inspired by Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, below.