We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

27 May

We Need to Talk About Kevin is an exceptional film.  We Need to Talk About Kevin follows Eva Khatchadourian, mother to sociopath, Kevin.  Kevin spent his childhood slowly destroying his mother’s life, and tops it off with a school massacre.  There are so many competing emotions and drives, so artfully captured.  The conflicts are enthralling– the tension between a mother who hates her son but wants to love him, a wife who loves her husband but can’t communicate with him, and a husband who is convinced that his son is fine and that his wife has some kind of vendetta against him.

Tilda Swinton is, as always, amazing.  Her demeanor is usually cold, but she shows a much greater range of emotion in this film.  John C. Reilly tones down the goofball antics, and comes across as a dad who really cares, but is oblivious.

Eva’s not a “good person” or a “bad person.”  She’s just a person struggling to get through her daily life.  At times you want to scream at her for not being more aggressive on her own behalf, other times you just want to hug her.  You know this film is tragedy from the very beginning, but there was one twist that makes everything so much more tragic that I just didn’t expect.

This isn’t a “Good Son” style horror flick.  But it is frightening how in some of young Kevin’s aggression, I can see flickers of people I know.  With the exception of his television monologue, Kevin doesn’t feel like a caricature, he feels real, which makes it all the more chilling.

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3 Responses to “We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)”

  1. Kelly Arnold May 29, 2012 at 7:23 am #

    I did not watch the movie yet, but I did read the book. It was very well-written, and I would recommend it as a good read. I do have one complaint/criticism, and I admit it is a paranoid, self-centered one. Both Kevin and Eva bear some resemblance to my own family. Luke was an infant like Kevin, screaming around the clock and difficult to bond with, and continues to have some impulse control issues that include aggressive behavior (threats, pushing, hitting when frustrated). I have been tired and frustrated and at wits’ end with him. I have never regretted having him, I have never hated him, and I have never considered him to be evil, but these are all distinctions that are internal and not seen by outsiders. He has never engaged in the cold, calculating, scheming behavior that Kevin did, but this is a distinction that may matter more to me than it does to others.

    One of the more challenging aspects of dealing with Luke right now is his interaction with others, and their responses to him. I feel like this book/movie is going to make my job in that respect 10 times harder, because it is an open invitation to judge/label a child who shows aggressive tendencies as a potential sociopath, and the mom at her wits’ end as a cold, unloving mom who is raising a future school shooter. As it is, Luke is only allowed to play at our house, in our yard, because he threatened a neighbor girl last year after she had teased him and taunted him for days (he had just turned 4, she was 7). I really have concern that the kids who do still come to our yard to play will not be allowed to if people draw comparisons between a fictional character and my son. In the past, I have spoken openly about his difficult infant stage and ongoing behavior issues. Now I am afraid by doing so, I have planted that seed in the mind of anyone who reads this books. I am also afraid that other women like me, who are just starting that infant stage, would be afraid to speak openly about it as a result of the book and will not receive the support they completely need during that time.

    In an interview about the book, the author said she was trying to write a story about a woman who regretted having a child, because she had reservations about having children, people did not speak openly about regretting it, and she wanted to come up with a worst case scenario where she could show someone who clearly regretted it. In my opinion, at least in the book, her lack of experience with motherhood kind of shows. There are probably thousands of babies who are unhappy and have difficulty nursing, and go on to also have some challenging behaviors in their toddler and preschool years. The vast majority of those mothers will not give up on the child, label them evil, and decide to ride out the rest of their lives wishing they had not been born. On the other hand, if I recall correctly, in most of the school shootings, the kids had loving, attentive parents.

    It is a fictional story, of course, and only intended to be a fictional story. I know I am overthinking it when I fear that people will draw comparisons to real-life children and give it a predictive quality. But I can’t shake that feeling that it was set up to make us think that way–to make us think that all of these things are signs/indications of a child who is evil and/or dangerous by birth or by parenting or both. I found myself doing a mental checklist comparing Kevin to Luke as I read and while I hope it was just my own experience that made me do that, I fear that others would do the same but without the benefit of enough time and observation of him to recognize the distinctions.

    • BeezusKiddo May 30, 2012 at 8:17 am #

      I’m just reading the book now, but I can say from the movie that I didn’t think Kevin was similar to Luke. Sure, Luke’s got impulse control problems, but Kevin’s entire self was driven by a desire to be cruel. Luke’s not a cruel kid. He can be a wild kid, but he’s definitely not cruel.
      The other big takeaway I had from the movie was the cruelty of the victims’ parents– they lost children and that was TERRIBLE, but Eva lost her whole family too. Exclude Kevin as a loss, but she lost her daughter and her husband. She was hurt too. Yet these parents in the community are driven to torment her.
      I hope that the book & movie don’t make things harder for you & Luke :/

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky (1999) « BeezusKiddo - October 28, 2012

    […] it is at all possible for me to watch a film with Ezra Miller and think of anything other than We Need to Talk About Kevin.  (Sidenote, I did read that book as well, I just never got around to blogging about it. My […]

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