Review: We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

I should’ve known. Seriously, I’m better than this, I should have been immediately able of telling this was going to be one of those movies. You know what I’m talking about, one of those movies that annoys the sh*t out of you. Yeah.

~~ It will contain SPOILERS.~~

We Need to Talk About Kevin is about a mother, Eva Khatchadourian(Tilda Swinton), who struggles to connect with her child, Kevin, even though he’s strange and mean and cruel. 

We see all of that in hindsight, as the narrative is non-linear. I actually had a problem with this because 10-15 minutes into the movie and you’re still not sure which scenes are from the present, which ones are from the past and which are in-between.

In the present, Eva lives on her own, has a seemingly unimportant job at a travel agency and is haunted by events of the past. The whole town seems to hate her and this is where the past narrative comes in, explaining why that is.

The past tells the story of how her husband and her, along with their young child, moved to that town. Kevin is very spawn of the devil material. Defiant, unattached, hostile, cruel, but only toward his mother. His relationship with the father (John C. Rilley) is the exact opposite.

As the story progresses, we see young Kevin growing up to be a teenager and Eva having another kid, a daughter, Celia.  The relationship between Eva and Kevin doesn’t change, only gets worse and every single attempt to get to the bottom of his behavior is met with ridicule by the clueless father. Excuses like “he’s just acting like a boy should” or “it’s your own fault, you need help” are thrown around, just to annoy the wits out of me probably.

After an unfortunate, yet obviously intentional, incident that leaves Celia having to wear a glass eye, the story culminates with Kevin locking himself up in the gym and shooting up (bow and arrow, not gun) several fellow high schoolers. He also kills his father and Celia.

Thus the reason, back into the present, why the whole town hates Eva with a burning passion. She lost everything, husband, daughter and her son, for better or worse, yet random townspeople smack her in the face on the street. Unacceptable and unbelievable in the most literal way? Yes, I thought so too.

I had problems with this movie, oh, did I ever.  This movie is like a little child – stay with me here people! – who’s not sure of what he wants to be when he grows up. It goes for that ambiguity, but (for me) fails epically. We get the sense that maybe Eva was a bad mother, neglecting her child, not loving him enough, hence creating this Omen nightmare of a kid. This POV is backed up by her guilty conscience, the way she punishes herself (in the present), her self imprisonment staying in that town. Then again, we see Kevin being antagonistic towards her from birth almost. You can easily account for her neglect once you see his behavior. She also shows a genuine effort to connect with him, but he shoots her down every single time.

So far, so good. However, the ending kills that ambiguity down. Dead, gone, nooo more.

The annoying part is how everything that goes on with Kevin and between him and Eva completely eludes the father. He’s complacent, utterly oblivious to anything around him, to the extreme, to the point where he hints at Eva needing professional help.

I get this is a movie. I also get that movie does not equal real life. But if you want me to believe something, then hells bells, make it believable.

For all its numerous faults, the movie’s saved by three hands-down great performances. Tila Swinton is exceptional, displaying a genuine array of emotions in portraying a strong, very guilty character.

Jasper Newell, the actor who played Kevin as a 6-year-old kid, was also really good, but not as good as newcomer Ezra Miller( Kevin as a teenager). He gives us a look into the complicated mind of a sociopath and does so extremely well. Cruel to the point of sadistic, yet calm and calculated.

Don’t confuse annoying with bad. We Need to Talk About Kevin is not a bad movie, if you can get past the absurdity of it.

 

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2 thoughts on “Review: We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

  1. I felt the same way while reading the book. It is hard to understand how utterly clueless the dad could be and then both of them did basically nothing when Kevin obviously maimed his sister. The book was maddening enough without her final reaction to Kevin. Never!

    • I agree. It doesn’t seem possible , except if they both really didn’t care, which doesn’t seem to be the case. They obviously care, but do absolutely nothing.
      Ah, the ending, yeah. I was wondering if anyone or I could ever do it.

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