We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

December 16, 2011 By Mike B
Movie Review

What Worked?

True horror comes from what we  have to live with rather than what solely scares us on screen. The dark nature of the human condition is extracted and poured to the brim in the form of a boy named Kevin in Lynne Ramsay’s film, We Need to Talk About Kevin. This film is a study of a character void of any true light within him, any spark for redemption or normalcy; Kevin is a real-life version of Mike Myers if he refrained from any murderous acts early on. Ramsay’s film also studies the point of view of Kevin’s mother, Eva, and her struggle to simply deal with Kevin, to deal with what she created without destroying him.

Ramsay’s direction is pulsing, jumping back and forth from past to present in a frantic and effective way. The scenes slowly collide across the entire film until the “before” and “after” clash to put the picture together of what Kevin becomes. From the very beginning, as we see Eva in a surreal looking tomato fight festival, the film is gripping. With every isolated sound and symbolism of violence, like a jelly sandwich being made, this film puts you in a trance, like you’re staring at a car wreck in slow-motion. The audience can feel the emotions running through the characters with ease and without mercy. The script allows the actors to shine, although there is some interesting dialogue, especially with the teenage Kevin.

Ezra Miller, as Kevin,  is a devious, sly villain in a teenage boy’s body, but still in the dark himself as to why he is the way he is. That quaint, silently judgmental mug on Kevin makes his foul words and horrific teen angst even more of a nuisance. Jasper Newell is also a treat to watch, as he plays Kevin with menace, even at 8 years of age. You want to almost strangle Kevin, from when he’s a baby to when he’s all grown up, putting you in the shoes of Eva.

Tilda Swinton, playing Eva,  is a marvel to watch, as her emotions are completely wrecked, but her body still functions to try to hold on to some better days. Before Kevin is far beyond saving, Eva is truly trying to be a mother, despite not being ready to rip off her label as “adventurer.” At the same time, Swinton shows that she’s on the verge of giving up many times, and with every agape look and bottled up piece of fury, we can relate to her situation even more. The role is very complex, and Swinton is more than enough talent to take it on. Swinton is simply perfect in the role. Kevin’s father is played very well by John C. Reilly, and he’s basically the “good guy” that constantly tries to accept Kevin and not see his dark side.

This film is a fine observation of a troubled youth, diving so deep into the darkness of the matter that there’s no turning back to the light. We Need to Talk About Kevin definitely brings up the question of raising a child, especially on the topic of nature versus nurture. It’s a film about a destructive relationship between a son and mother that gets under the skin like a Horror flick, but still hits you emotionally like a Drama.

Potential Drawbacks:

At first, the film jumps back and forth so much that one may think the film is doing so for the sake of style. Even after it settles down a bit, there may be some that won’t enjoy the back and forth style of the editing and story.

There is truly nothing to like about Kevin, but that’s obviously the point, and some may not even want to try and understand the situation because Kevin comes across as so off-putting. The film itself is truly dark, so that may also keep viewers from even trying to watch it.

Film Recommendations:

The Woodsman
Boy A
Rosemary’s Baby


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