The Reel

The Reel: We Need To Talk About Kevin


NOTE: This critic contains spoliers! 

Oh Boy what a disturbing movie!

We Need To Talk About Kevin is Lynne Ramsey’s (The Lovely Bones) adaption of the novel by Lionel Shriver. Ramsey delivers a disturbing slow-moving film that looks into the personal and social impact of a mother raising a troubled child, and the actions of that child. The film is chronicled through one person’s eyes; Eva the mother of Kevin. There is a grim and somber tone to the film, and everything, every scene is kept to a minimal as it relies on the intense visual to relay the full story. There is also a deliberately disjointed narrative throughout the movie, cutting from the present to the past and vice versa; maybe in the attempt to give us a preview of what’s to come, and having us hope that it wouldn’t happen; and an attempt to remind us of how far Eva has come with her emotions, and the evil progress of Kevin. Ramsey was able to execute this dark movie that we all understand is full of blood without showing any of the actual massacres. All of the most violence and bloodiest scenes are committed off screen. Yet we can visualize it all too well in our minds.

The movie opens up to a few bizarre scenes made to introduce you to the theme and the tone of the movie, giving you enough blood visualization or representation of all the missing massacres and accidents scenes in the movie. One of those scenes is the Boschian Tomatina fight, with the equivocal vision of a blissed out Eva buried in the blood red Tomatina.

Eva Khatchdourian (Tilda Swinton) is a career oriented woman, has a successful career as a travel writer and is uninterested in maternity and the baby that is growing inside of her. It takes her some time to come to terms with it, but with the help of her complacent husband Franklin (John C. Reilly) she somewhat accepts it. From the moment Kevin is born until about his toddler years, Eva struggles to be a good mother. She is not interested in this child and doesn’t know how to take care of him. Her idea of subduing him is to stand next to a pneumatic drill to drown out his relentless screaming. Eventually she starts making efforts. However by that time it seemed to be too late as Kevin has already started to test her patience and push her buttons.

As Kevin continues to grow up and starts to express himself and show a personality the movie immediately becomes disturbing. You start having flashbacks of Damien, but also wonder how Damien-ish Kevin is or could be. Unfortunately he gets closer to Damien as he gets older. When Eva and Franklin find out that they are expecting another baby, and Eva having had embraced motherhood by that time, approaches this pregnancy and this new baby girl in a new light; with love and compassion. Guess who is not happy about that? Kevin of course, who hates his new baby sister Celia with a passion.

What follows is a series of events affirming Kevin’s hate for his sister and his mom, and Kevin playing his father and mother against each other. We see Eva desperately trying to speak to her husband about the mental state and behavior of their son, Franklin being in total denial and in his ignorance, supplying Kevin with the weapon and ammunition he used to commit a horrendous act. A series of accidents also follows which involves Celia, Franklin, and a Columbine like accident.

I struggled to explain Kevin’s behavior. Unlike Damien he was not the spawn of satan. Could he have acted this way because his mother failed to love him when he was a baby and maybe a toddler? Yes it’s possible. Actually it seems like that is what the movie wants the audience to believe; but I don’t see it being feasible. How much do you remember when you are a baby? By the time he was a toddler his mother was already making efforts to change. That makes me think that his mother’s coldness towards him certainly did not cause or warrant his mental state and his behavior. Naturally I concluded that he was sociopath, and it made sense; until the end of the movie when Eva visits him in jail. Kevin clearly shows signs of remorse. He actually looks like he’s been in a nightmare or a dream is whole life and he finally woke up; dazed, confused and remorseful. He did not look like a sociopath to me. He clearly displayed emotions. At that moment I realized that he was just a spoiled little brat! Who felt entitled and who wanted the whole world to cater to him. A brat who hated his mother so much that he committed the worst crimes. When he saw that his mother still loved him after what he had done, he snapped out of this crazy world he had created for himself.

The first couple minutes of the movie are a bit boring. It’s solely about boring Eva and her boring life. Things start getting interesting when Kevin is able to express himself in all the disturbing ways that he does, which really keeps your intention because it starts at such a young age. Then you keep wondering what could cause him to act the way he does. You keep looking for clear reasons and a clear explanation; but there are none. Before you know it the movie has ended.

You can watch You Need to Talk About Kevin in the channels below:

  • Amazon – free with Prime membership
  • Google Play – $3.99
  • Netflix DVD

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