Movie Review – We Need To Talk About Kevin

We Need To Talk About Kevin tells the story of a mother coming to terms with a school massacre that her son committed.  The film stars Tilda Swinton as Eva, a successful world traveler and chronicler who is saddled with motherhood and her ambivalence towards it all.  John C. Reilly stars as Franklin, the father who always has hopes that the family dynamic will work when taking Eva out of her comfort zone.  Ezra Miller plays the older Kevin, who shows signs of hostility at a very early age towards Eva and is responsible for the massacre at the school.  The movie plays out in a non-linear fashion with cuts to post-massacre Eva dealing with the consequences of Kevin’s action and cuts back to the birth of Kevin and his development from an early age.  We are slowly given pieces of the puzzle that makes up the issue of the movie.  The whole debate about the “nature vs nurture” issue in which we try and place blame on the actions of a young child.

By far, the subject of High School killings is a touchy subject.  It’s a topic that we don’t want to think about since we know that something drove a young person to actively take the lives of his peers.  It’s a brutal topic to discuss and it always raises more questions than answers.  The movie frames the issue down to that of the relationship between Eva and Kevin.  From a very early age we see Kevin being disobedient and downright malicious in his treatment of his mother.  He doesn’t obey her, he destroys everything she creates and Kevin finds a way to be this devil child to her.  Eva on the other hand, wasn’t really excited about being a mother.  She was a world traveler and had a successful career which had to be put on the back burner to raise a child that she wasn’t really excited about.  She tries, but with kind of a more pushy tone.  We never get a clear answer as to what is to blame for Kevin’s actions.  As a society it is never our own fault but the fault of something else, video games, movies, music, television, and then it’s the parents.  Frankly we might never know what causes this to happen, but it makes us think even more.

Tilda Swinton was incredible in her role.  We see her young vibrant life before having Kevin and then see life come to a halt to slow down and reach out to Kevin at a young age.  The post-massacre Eva is one that is lifeless and dreary.  Her beauty and happiness is all but gone and she looks like she is waiting for the sweet release of death to come for her.  Her acting abilities brought what life she could to a character that is conflicted about what her child is becoming.  At an early age she knew something was wrong, but what could you do in the situation.  Reilly’s character is the happy optimistic that believes it will all work out and that things will be great in the end  He doesn’t want to think that something is wrong with Kevin.  Eva has to deal with the consequences that Kevin brought upon them.

The movie has this eerie beauty to it all.  The cinematography is gorgeous and the constant use of dark red colors plays a role in the movie, foreshadowing what is to come for the family.  Director Lynne Ramsay brings a stylistic eye to the movie with her stark colors and skillful cutting of the different timelines in the movie to bring it all to a close.  You have to think of it as Eva looking back on her past with Kevin to figure out what went wrong or how she could have helped stopped what was coming.  It her memories that really haunt her than the action itself as you could take it that from the direction of the movie, she is to blame.  Certainly after the massacre the whole town blames her as evident by her frequent encounters with the victim’s families.

With movies like Elephant or Bang Bang You’re Dead dealing with the school shooting itself, We Need To Talk About Kevin brings into discussion that of who is at fault in all this.  Few times do we really see far back enough, the lead up to the even from the onset of birth and adolescence.  Swinton’s character is trying to make sense of it all as the actions of Kevin cost her more than just her son.  The movie doesn’t give us an answer in the end.  We don’t closure, we don’t know why Kevin did it, and that’s the way it should be.  Do we really want to know what drives these kids to kill?  Do we want to know as parents that it was us that drove them to kill?  The “nature vs nurture” debate doesn’t have an end.  The movie is difficult in how are audiences going to react to this.  The performances are incredible, even with Ezra Miller’s performance as Kevin being all too real, but what about the subject matter?  Will people look at this movie and get them to think about the topic in a rational way?  Or will this movie ultimately drop due to the touchy subject?  I think the movie does the best job at bringing to light the subject school massacres, even with the risk of it being rejected at the theaters by movie goers.  The theme and story is there, the characters are compelling and tragic.  If you can get an opportunity to see this, do so.  It’s a tough movie to watch, but the subject matter is tough as well.

Rating: 4.5/5

About Nick
I am just another blogger putting his thoughts into a website. My love is movies so most of my musings will be movie related. I work as an online marketer for an advertising company and when I am not earning a paycheck, I moonlight as a vigilante film blogger.

One Response to Movie Review – We Need To Talk About Kevin

  1. Pingback: Awards Season – 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards « Another Plot Device

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