Page To Screen: We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011)


We Need To Talk About Kevin
based on the novel by Lionel Shriver


2011 • 112 minutes • Oscilloscope Laboratories

Literary fiction, as a genre, often baffles me. Not in the sense that it is a genre—redundant and semantically superfluous as the term actually is, there’s enough stylistic and content similarities that we really do need to have a name for contemporary fiction that deals almost solely with the interior lives of often quite privileged characters. Or, to put it as bluntly as Erin Callahan has in the past, the worst literary fiction consists of “love letter[s] to privilege and ennui.” Rather, what baffles me is that it’s often used not to indicate that actual genre, but that something is acceptable in the mainstream while ghettoizing the genre it actually belongs to. There’s nothing wrong with pointing out accessible texts to people who normally don’t read a certain genre, but when it’s used to cherry pick from and then ignore an entire genre, that’s when I get angry.

So I sometimes forget about what literary fiction actually is at its core, without all of that silly privileging and labeling, and it takes a film to remind me. Last time, it was the astonishing A Single Man and this time it’s We Need to Talk About Kevin.

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