We Need To Talk About Kevin(2011)(Review)[Weirdo Wednesday]
‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ is a dark drama starring Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly. They are a married couple who are having a wonderful life together, and one night Eva (Swinton) gets pregnant. The film goes back and forth between a few timelines – one that takes place after the end of the movie, one that takes place during the ending, one where Eva is pregnant with Kevin, one where Kevin is a toddler, one where Kevin is a young kid at roughly age 7, and one where Kevin is a 15-year-old teenager.
From the start, Kevin makes life for his mother quite miserable. He makes too much noise, he’s insubordinate, and he appears to do things maliciously towards her. He plays obvious favorites with his dad Franklin (Reilly), and the dad often takes Kevin’s side in the arguments. But this isn’t a clear case of an evil child – although this film certainly plays like that. Eva is an overly aggressive mother. When Kevin is only mildly bad (and arguably just being a toddler) his mother lashes out and punishes him. As he gets older, he becomes quieter and more calculated. He finds the things she holds dear, like a personal room for her crafts, and destroys them. At a point in the film they give birth to a young girl and Kevin is a bully of a brother. It starts with simple things like bossing her around and calling her names, and evolves into events that make me squirm just thinking about it.
All of this leads up to the huge ending… it’s a school shooter film. Kevin at the end of the film brings a bow and arrows to school, locks the doors with bike locks, and goes on a murder spree. To the director’s credit this is not at all exploitive. We don’t see any real violence, we just see some insinuations and the aftermath. During the beginning of the film we also see Eva try to do normal things like get groceries or get a job and every person on the street is mean and even physically violent to her – which all makes sense once you see this happen. The main argument within the film is simply, what happened? Was Kevin born evil, or was he just a product of bad parenting? There are no clear answers and the director lets you play ball with this.
So, this movie made me extremely emotional. There was a scene in the last 5 minutes where I physically screamed “Holy shit” in the middle of the break room at work. I was anxious, I was scared, I was sad, and I was pulled deep into this web of bleakness. It’s masterfully directed with a noticeable pacing of using a lot of quick cuts and nonlinear story telling where most straight scenes don’t last more than 5 minutes at a time. We are dropped somewhere on the timeline, witness an event that adds up to the ending or is built off of it, then we transport somewhere else. The only real clues we have to where we’re at are the length of Eva’s hair and the age of the children. But this movie is brilliant. I loved it even though it made me very uneasy. I strongly recommend it, but probably with a trigger warning. There’s some ideas and visuals that are very upsetting and they remind me of a “The House That Jack Built” style of visual storytelling – except not nearly as graphic, but equally as nihilistic.
‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ is currently streaming on The Criterion Channel
‘Til Next Time, Mike Cleopatra