We Need to Talk About Kevin confronts taboo topics: a mother’s inability to bond with her child and a mother dealing with the aftermath of her child carrying out a school massacre. Told in flashbacks, you are tipped off early that something awful has happened. The clues come together for the disturbing conclusion.
Kevin (Ezra Miller) isn’t an easy child. He enters the world crying and doesn’t stop. As he ages, he resists her relentless efforts to play, engage and be her son. He refuses to potty train, so at a late age, Eva is still changing his diapers. He creates a schism between Eva and Kevin’s father, Franklin (John C. Reilly). She looks to him for support; Franklin doesn’t see the gravity developing: Kevin is a sociopath. He victimizes his mother and when little sister Celia (Ashley Gerasimovich) is born, Eva is unable to protect her from Kevin’s wrath. You think Franklin is spared in Kevin’s manipulative system but Kevin has cast him for a different part.
We Need to Talk About Kevin elicits discomfort and helplessness. It seems to ask, what would you do? Eva’s frustration is palpable, but I wondered if anyone else was noticing that Kevin was off. Would Kevin get away with his behaviors at school? We never hear how he’s doing at school or about friends. Does he have any friends? These details are too important to ignore. We know little about Kevin’s life outside his relationship with Eva. Is it realistic that Eva would be the only one to feel his wrath? What about Franklin’s zeal in getting Kevin more powerful bows, even after he’s hurt his sister? Would he be this clueless? Seems implausible that Franklin shows little concern. This is where it feels more like a horror flick.
This is Eva’s story. It gives insight into how parents of perpetrators of mass killings might get treated in the community afterwards. The acts against her are extreme and cruel, considering what you learn at the end. The movie is based on the eponymously named 2003 novel by Lionel Shriver. The book likely delves into and mitigates my aforementioned beefs. There’s a lot about this one that kept me rapt until the credits, but the story has its holes.
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Run time: 112 minutes