If you haven’t heard about We Need to Talk About Kevin, it’s because people are avoiding the talk, or you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last year. The film begins with Eva (Tilda Swinton), a woman shocked to discover her own unplanned pregnancy within a seemingly happy marriage. Embracing the news and her situation as best she can, the audience quickly picks up on the fact that her husband Franklin (John C. Reilly) seems happier about the little miracle than she is. Uncomfortable in her own skin as a mother, Eva tries her hardest to deal with her unruly (some would say evil-born) child, Kevin (played chronologically by Rock Duer, Jasper Newell, and finally Ezra Miller).
While Eva voices concerns to Franklin about her son’s evildoings, she is met with disbelief and an attitude of disgust. After all, what mother wouldn’t love their son, right? As viewers watch Kevin and Franklin’s relationship blossom, while Franklin and Eva’s deteriorates, they will likely have one of two personal reactions to what is unfolding on-screen. They will either empathize with Eva’s plight, believing she made her best effort and her child was simply born bad, or they will think her lack of desire to be a mother became evident even to Kevin even as a toddler, who played off of it, thus making her deserve the treatment she got from him, and making her ultimately responsible for his actions.
We Need to Talk About Kevin chronologically alternates clips of Franklin and Eva’s relationship development and demise, Eva dealing with various stages of parenthood, and the aftermath of Kevin’s actions on Eva and the townspeople after he went on a killing spree at his high school.
The twangy music seemed a little mismatched for the film’s dark tone, but if the filmmakers were hoping to provide even brief moments of reprieve from the subject matter, they were successful in doing just that.
Brilliantly acted by all three of the boys playing Kevin, as well as Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin will undoubtedly disturb you and provoke a conversation or two. However, had this been a clear cut school-shooting-as-a-result-of-bullying story, the film would’ve been more relevant and impactful. Clearly the upcoming doc Bully will address these present day issues our young children are facing.
The fact of the matter is this; young kids are more frequently taking it upon themselves to plan and often follow through with acts of violence on their peers or strangers. Whatever the reason, it is important that we have more active conversations, get better at seeing the signs, and work more cohesively as a community to come together when there are suspicions, no matter how awful they are to accept, so that we as a society can reduce or prevent these catastrophic events altogether.
With Columbine in our backyard, every adult in Colorado should see We Need to Talk About Kevin, regardless of whether you do or don’t plan to have children, have them already, work in the education sector, or ever interact with children.
Click here for Denver Metro showtimes for We Need to Talk About Kevin.
Co-writer Rory Kinnear writer/director Lynne Ramsay were in Denver at the 34th Annual Starz Denver Film Festival to present this film.
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