Friday, March 23, 2012

We Need to Talk About Kevin: Movie Review


We could talk about Kevin but nobody knows what to say.

“We Need to Talk About Kevin” is about a young boy who is exhibiting serious behavioral problems and then as a teenager is most likely responsible for some pretty heinous actions. It’s also about his mother. The recent excellent film “Beautiful Boy” follows similar relationships but takes the stance that it isn’t always the fault of the parents. This film seems to say to forget about that morality tale, it is the mother’s fault.2011

Directed by: Lynne Ramsay

Screenplay by: Lynne Ramsay and Rory Kinnear

Starring: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly and Ezra Miller

This film would probably have been excellent if we really did talk about Kevin, as in have discussions, aka dialogue. Instead we spent an awful lot of time zooming in on his eyeball. And his mother’s eyeball. Every other scene also needed to have something or someone covered in red. Be it blood, paint, jam, spaghetti sauce or ketchup, this film was soaked in red. To me, the avant-garde style of filmmaking detracted from the story they were trying to tell.

I’m also not sure I agree with what they were trying to say. But that can be a positive if they leave you with things to think about. Which they do – in spades.

Kevin is a complex fellow and we never can be sure why he does the things he does. I have come up with some explanations for some of his actions but no definitive answer to “Why?” Part of that is because it’s a good way to structure a film, but it also leads to another problem.

We start spending time with Kevin when he’s a toddler. Apparently he’s three but with the emotional and mental acuity of a twenty-something cynical adult. The young Rock Duer that played him was excellent but the writing for that character was far from believable. The teenage Kevin played by Ezra Miller was more appropriate and just as well portrayed. Behaving the way teenagers do but with this anger from years of mental derangement brooding beneath the surface. Ezra Miller has this tenderness to everything he does that instead of being scared of him we start feeling sorry for him.

I, however, felt sorry for him from the beginning. I don’t think people like Tilda Swinton’s character should ever be allowed to be a mother. At least John C. Reilly grew into the role of a father. They were hippies that conceived their son while participating in some weird foreign spiritual ritual that involves being bathed in gallons and gallons of blood (I’m assuming animal blood and guts) along with hundreds of other people. She actually liked that and longed to get back to that time and place.

“We Need to Talk About Kevin” doesn’t seem to belong in this world, but I don’t know whose fault that is, or if it is indeed a fault.


Beautiful Boy (2010) - Engaging dynamics to relationships destroyed and created from a mass murder.

God Bless America (2011) - Hilarious cynicism so accurate and extreme that no target is left alive.