MOVIE REVIEW: WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN (2011)

Running time: 1 hour, 52 minutes
Cast: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller
Director: Lynne Ramsey

We Need to Talk About Kevin poster

Thanks to Redbox, I had the pleasure to see this intense and powerful film. Tilda Swinton gives a strong performance as Eva, the distraught mother of the title character Kevin. Her son is sitting in jail after he commits a series of murders, and Eva looks back on her relationship with Kevin to see where things went wrong. Most of the movie is shown as Eva’s flashbacks, and it’s mixed with scenes showing Eva visiting Kevin a few times while he’s in jail.

The audience immediately sees a haunting portrayal of Kevin as a toddler and into his early childhood. He is very angry and confrontational and shows signs of physical aggression towards his toys. Eva seems to be hurt and confused by his actions until it’s revealed that she’s probably the inspiration and the main example for his behavior.

One scene that really stuck with me was Kevin’s injury as a child. The way Kevin explained the injury to his father, and the truth behind what really happened serves as a catalyst for Kevin’s continued aggression. Sadly, it also confirms to Eva that her son has a problem.

If this movie seems depressing and harrowing….well, it is! But I hope this doesn’t stop people from watching it. We Need to Talk About Kevin didn’t perform well at the box office, and I suspect the subject matter (along with the somewhat creepy title) pushed people away. And within the movie itself, every piece of dialogue, every scene, and every movement is carefully executed to create a sense of dread and anxiety.

The director, Lynn Ramsey, did a wonderful job of keeping the audience painfully tuned into Kevin’s emotions. There’s a lot of scenes that show Kevin glaring at his mother or getting caught in various acts of childhood rebellion. There’s tense moments when the father (lovingly played by John C. Reilly) introduces Kevin to a recreational pasttime that helps Kevin commit the massacre that sends him to jail. Overall, Ramsey knows that silence can be golden when used correctly.

My one gripe with the movie occurs with the character of Eva. She was abusive towards Kevin, and I find it odd that the father turned a blind eye to Eva’s behavior and didn’t recognize that his son was affected by it. This movie gives the impression that it’s unknown why Kevin was such a terror from his young childhood years and into his teenage years, but I think it’s clear that Eva was the terror in his life. She spends most of the movie struggling with her guilt, and I think she is given sympathy that she did not earn.

Have you seen We Need to Talk About Kevin? Let me know what you think!

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