1. When your spouse tells you there’s something seriously wrong with your child – LISTEN.
2. Don’t ever gift your child with a bow and arrows. Just DON’T.
3. DON’T EVER NAME YOUR CHILD ‘KEVIN’.
Just take those three suggestions under advisement and you’ll be on your way to having a relatively danger-free household.
Based on Lionel Shriver’s novel, Lynne Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin tells the chilling story of a warped mother-son relationship that results in a devastating act of ultimate defiance. Let’s just get this out of the way – everyone already knows this movie as “that one where Tilda Swinton has that f*cked up son named Kevin that massacres his high school”:
Tilda Swinton delivers a nuanced and detached performance as Eva Khatchadourian (whose name sounds like a delicious curry), a once-successful travel writer who tries to piece back together her life in the wake of her son’s “incident”. She looks like hell. Like a walking corpse. Its pretty appropriate since, as the film unfolds, it becomes more obvious that this isn’t so much a psychological thriller than genuine domestic horror.
You feel pretty awful for her. Her son is the one who killed a bunch of kids and yet she’s clearly living with the consequences. She lives in a house that looks like it belongs to a demerol addict. She regularly suffers the ire of everyone around her. She’s “that woman” – they shun her and physically abuse her. Someone neighbourhood asshole throws paint all over her house (which was actually an improvement – the bloody red gave it some character).
Eva’s story is told in flashbacks. Lynne Ramsay creates a stark, visceral atmosphere through repetitive cuts between meaningful visuals. Let’s just say, there’s a lot of red. Red jam, red paint, red furniture. Red, red, red. Red for BLOOD.
When Kevin is borne of an accidental pregnancy, Eva struggles with motherhood. She resents his presence and her awkward attempts at connecting with Kevin soon turns their relationship hostile. Kevin, a strange and sensitive child, seems to pick up on Eva’s obvious lack of mothering skills and lashes out in increasingly disturbing ways. Shan’t spoil the lovely sociopathic acts he commits as you’ll have to just watch the film and get freaked out all on your own.
A lot of people have lauded Ezra Miller for his portrayal of Kevin (he was truly excellent, don’t get me wrong). Honestly though, the stars of the film for me were the little Kevins, Rocky Duer and Jasper Newell. The cold, calculating, and completely vicious take on little Kevin was what scared me the most – this obvious potential for psychosis was scarier to me than the unhinged reality of teenage Kevin. He was like the little devil child from The Omen, but only incredibly real.
I read this article some time ago that dealt with the potential for childhood detection of the psychopath gene. While I acknowledge that most children are beautifully innocent creatures, reading anecdotes about these intensely clever and manipulative kids has really put me off ever having one myself. Having a psychotic one is a longshot, but people need to accept that children are more capable of intense cruelty than we could ever allow ourselves to imagine. (Ohmigod, I really don’t want a kid anymore.)
Not to be an awful person, but there was nothing more satisfying than the end where Kevin is about to be transferred to an adult’s prison. (Come on, I’m not spoiling anything – a kid who shoots up a bunch of high-schoolers? Of course, he’s in jail.) He looks petrified. Clearly, he’s not getting first-class treatment in juvie. Eva is given the opportunity for vindication and still, this destructive (and slightly obsessive) relationship between mother and son continues to surge ahead.
Okay! On that horrible note, here’s a funny video about evil kids (three cheers for Childish Gambino!):