- Movie Rating -

We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

| October 21, 2011

All his life Kevin Khatchadourian has been a problem. Even as an infant he was always fussy and wouldn’t stop crying. As a toddler he was out of control, refusing any kind of affection or teaching from his mother. He did things for shock value, and as we look in his eyes we can see that something isn’t quite right. When he becomes a man, we aren’t surprised the he blossoms into a sociopath.

We Need To Talk About Kevin is a very disturbing film, not in a way of being bad, but in a way of being unsettling in the way parents see a problem with their children put off getting the proper professional help. It raises a lot of debates and discussions about the placement of blame when a kid commits a horrible crime.

Based on by the book by Lionel Shriver, which was told through a series of increasingly desperate letters, the film is told through a series of flashbacks and centers on Kevin’s devastated mother Eva (Tilda Swinton). Some time ago, her son went to prison after committing a series of murders that eerily resemble those at Columbine High School. Still living in the same community so that she can be near the prison and visit him, she is also still within the community of friends and parents of the kids that her son murdered. She is a pariah, and isn’t surprised when she comes home to find paint splashed all over the front of her house. She goes shopping and has to duck and hide in order to avoid contact with the grieving parents.

We can clearly see that she is devastated. Her face is always a mask of shock and grief. As she tries to clean up from vandals who have thrown paint on her house, we get a series of flashbacks beginning at the point when she was pregnant with her son. She never connected with him. Somehow the bond between mother and son just never seemed to come together, when she held him he seemed to cry harder and harder. As he got older, he became a problem. We see her trying to teach her son basic fundamentals, but the boy refuses, staring blankly at his mother through narrowed eyes. He is disrespectful and disobedient and does things that are shocking. If you can imagine Damian from The Omen, without getting the devil involved, you kind of get the idea.

Eva seems to have no control over her son. Her husband Franklin (John C. Reilly) is no help; he pats the kid on the back and seemly refuses to even acknowledge that anything is wrong.

Much of the film’s success lays in the performance of Tilda Swinton, one of the best actors working right now. She is an actor who possesses a rare quality that many of her contemporaries are afraid to explore. When she occupies a role, she fills it with her whole being. There is a certain fearlessness about her, a boldness, she doesn’t try to hide anything. Everything that she is feeling is present in the center of her face and in her body language. When she is in distress, it shows from head to toe. When she’s happy, her body relaxes and her face becomes warm and sunny. She is a full-bodied performer, and not just with her face or with her voice.

What she does here is nothing short of miraculous. She plays Eva as a woman that we can sense might have had no business being a mother to begin with. She isn’t a bad mother, just an ineffectual one. It became clear early on that her some was a problem, but no one did anything about it. Maybe she just didn’t know what to do. Swinton refuses to make Eva likable, and we can see the torment that is crushing down upon her.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2011) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized