Movie Review: We Need to Talk about Kevin

IMDB, We Need to Talk about KevinThriller, 112 Minutes, 2011: “We Need to Talk about Kevin” on IMDB

Kids suck, amirite or amirite? I mean you’re perfectly happy living your life, spending your disposable income and sleeping through the night. You want to go out; you go out! You want to beat “Final Fantasy VII” in a sitting; you do it! Then, out of nowhere, BAM! Then, nine-months later it all goes to hell. The crying, diaper changing and total lack of privacy. And don’t get me started on the enduring antisocial behavior, diminished empathy and remorse, and disinhibited or bold behavior!

The story twirls two timelines around a central climatic event. Kevin is a troubled child and Tilda Swinton [IMDB] plays Eva, his mother.  We see Eva raising the troublesome Kevin with a loving, but oblivious father (John C. Reilly [IMDB]) who is unable to see the darkness in his son. Kevin, for his part, learns very quickly how to play his parents off of one another and score crippling emotional darts on his long-suffering mother. The second timeline explores  Eva’s life and her relationship with her son after everything falls apart.

The script is smart and disturbing without being overly graphic; the movie doesn’t pull any punches but never devolves to mindless splatter. The character interactions are given every attention. While they’re not always successful – the chemistry between Swinton and Reilly is especially lacking – they’re always interesting.  I did find the musical selections (and their volume) a little overbearing, but not distracting.

This is Swinton’s movie to make or break. Emotionally, she hits all the right notes. There are some odd technical issues (like her recurring accent confusion) that cause momentary issues, but her overall focus is impressive. Her character is complex and so the audience reaction to her needs to be complex.  The twin themes of parental responsibility and societal guilt are deeply and provocatively explored. This is a hard movie to watch and it’s one that won’t leave you quickly.

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