People tend to place blame on the parents when their children do something wrong. Sometimes this practice is perfectly legit, especially when the behavior is a constant minor disruption or something that is obviously linked to bad parenting. But when the child creates a massive infraction which could include taking a life (or lives), it shouldn’t always fall back on the parents. But yet, the parent will almost always suffer as such the case here with We Need to Talk About Kevin.
Two years ago, Eva (played by Tilda Swinton) had a pretty decent life. She was a successful travel writer, had a loving husband, Franklin (played by John C. Reily) and a peppy daughter, Celia (played by Ashley Gerasimovich). Eva also had a son too named Kevin (played as an adult by Ezra Miller) but Eva’s tranquil life went away the day Kevin created a misdeed too gruesome to ever forget.
In present day, Eva’s life is anything but peaceful. Parents vandalize her home and physical as well as verbal dress downs are far too common aspects of her life. She manages to acquire a job in a small-time travel agency doing filing and other clerical duties. Eva takes this as par for the course and seems to offer no resistance to the foul deeds that the mass public chooses to bestow upon her. Meanwhile, her son sits in a juvenile prison awaiting his eighteenth birthday when he will be transported to an adult prison.
But how exactly did this come to be? To the naked eye, it would appear that Kevin was a normal high school student who was a bit quiet but fairly well adapted to teenage life. Actually though, if you take the time to go into his adolescence, you will find that Kevin (infant played by Rocky Duer and young child played by Jasper Newell) has always exhibited questionable behaviors even while still in his diapers.
We start to learn some horrible things about Kevin’s adolescence and his relationship with his mother. His father and the rest of the world saw Kevin as a quiet and confused child but Eva knew him to be anything but that. As Kevin grows up, we as the viewer become even more concerned about his violent tendencies. As Kevin grows up, Eva starts the long road into a deep depressive state. But what we are unprepared for is the horrible event that all of these flashbacks lead to, something so vile and reprehensible that nobody could have expected it. Except, possibly for Eva.
This movie switches back and forth between present day and various events from Kevin’s adolescence until he becomes a teenager. We don’t get to figure out what actually transpired until we are 95% into the movie. The movie’s main draw is simply to hold back the whole story and then draw it out in bits and pieces until we reach the horrific climax. That allows the viewer to watch the progression of not only Kevin but also of the mother who descends into a lonely depressive state.
The actors, particularly Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller do a fine job of capturing their respective characters (as does Jasper Newell) in their dysfunctional states. But the main problem here is that this is a dull depressing movie. We watch angry parents looking for somebody to blame cast their hatred upon Eva who seemingly takes it. To be honest, she is three steps away from suicide for most of this picture and the ending does very little to change our mind. Furthermore, Kevin is anything but redeemed by the final act and if he does not spend the rest of his life in jail, there is no reason not to believe that he will take his own life in the immediate future.
Dull, dark, and depressing is the words that come to mind as we view We Need to Talk About Kevin. Despite the fact that this movie was heralded and applauded by critics, neither me nor my wife could manage a thumbs up on this one. In fact, my wife was originally going to pen this one but had no idea what to say so I did my best to cobble together a piece for consumption.
This movie only works (barely) if the audience knows nothing about the movie. But even then, there is little joy to be found here. This is the kind of movie where you need a really senseless comedy afterwards just so you don’t dwell on it. Despite the critical accolades, I decline any recommendation. As it turns out, there is no need to talk about Kevin or this movie at all.