DVD Review: We Need to Talk About Kevin
Posted by Rachel
Parenthood can be scary. You hope you're doing a good job, but sometimes, you're never really sure. However, despite your best efforts, you may still end up with a complete sociopath for offspring. And it wouldn't really be your fault if the kid is just a bad seed...or would it?
We Need to Talk About Kevin is the haunting tale of Eva (Tilda Swinton), a once free spirited yuppie traveler, who decided in a fun drunken moment that maybe a child is the one thing missing from her life. She and her husband Franklin (John C. Reilly) have their first child, Kevin (Ezra Miller), but parenthood isn't quite the fulfilling adventure Eva expected. Kevin cries incessantly, won't talk, expect to say "no," has little interest in anything and doesn't start using the toilet until around age 7, only after Eva accidentally breaks his arm in a moment of frustration. And then when he's just shy of 16, Kevin does something unspeakably horrific.
In the aftermath, Eva, now an absolute outcast because of Kevin's actions, looks back on her parenting and wonders if she really is the one responsible for her monstrous son, or if there was nothing that could have prevented the tragedy. And, as it should, the film leaves it in a very gray area.
Kevin simply does not seem right from day one, but does that mean that there was always something wrong with him? If Eva had tried a little harder to bond with her difficult infant, perhaps he would have had a better chance. Maybe it wouldn't have mattered at all. And if was her fault for not being ideally nurturing, should she still be blamed for his actions? Or maybe Kevin wasn't as bad as we see him as a child, because after all, this is all from Eva's point of view. There's so much to discuss and analyze after seeing We Need to Talk About Kevin, that you could easily spout 10 different hypotheses about why Kevin did what he did, and still never come to a conclusion, because, just like when these things happen in life, there is no definitive answer on how it all went wrong. In the end it's probably a mixed bag anyway.
Not surprisingly Swinton's performance as Eva is stunning. Watching Eva's actions and reactions to Kevin are difficult, as she never seems to be able to connect with him. It could have been so easy to negatively judge her as a parent for lack of bonding or lack of discipline, but as you see Eva's desperate struggle to hang on, judging her so harshly feels wrong. Of course, helping her along is the pitch perfect Miller as Kevin, who sometimes feels too convincing. At the same time he never feels like a stock character. It could have been easy to look at the many similar incidents in the real world over the years to model Kevin after those of his same ilk, but he never does. He brings something even darker and more terrifying to an already evil person.
We Need to Talk About Kevin is quite captivating, and when it was done, I actually wanted there to be more, but due to its intense content was glad there wasn't. It does falter a few instances, especially when trying to logically play out Kevin's heinous crime, since the film lacks details on how he did it, something that's still eating away at me. Nonetheless, the heartbreaking story, the brutal mystery and a bit of reality turn this drama into an outright horror film for any parent.