I typically hate it when a movie’s trailer or poster boasts adjectives like “daring,” “gripping,” “haunting,” and so forth. Words like those seem like they’re spewed out by critics just to get their names forever plastered on the Blu-ray case. However, in the instance of ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’, that’s really the only way to describe the film.
‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’ is a heavy non-linear tale about the mother (Tilda Swinton) of a kid who did something bad – very bad. Until nearly the end of the film, all that we know is that he hurt a lot of kids at his school in a Columbine-esque spree of violence.
More than anything, the purpose of the film is to portray what it would be like to be the mother of a kid who did something like this – how you would feel, how others would look at you, etc. The film jumps around between three different phases of her life to show the drastic tonal differences. We see her as a young lover when the romance between her and soon-to-be husband (John C. Reilly) buds. As the saying goes, the world is their oyster. Nothing is impossible when you’re head over heels in love.
Then we see her as the struggling mother of child with colic. We see how her son loves to push her buttons and defy her as he grows up. When dad is around, he puts on another front – kind, loving, friendly and warm. It’s obvious that her son hates her and that she, too, hates him in return.
But the majority of the film is set after the incident. She now lives alone, her small home constantly vandalized by grieving, angry neighbors. We see her mind wander back to life before the spree of violence, the mental anguish of not knowing whether he was born with this evil or if she caused it in their mutual hatred. She’s depleted, a mere shell of the once-happy woman she used to be. And it seems that there’s no chance at redemption.
‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’ isn’t fun to watch. It’s not “entertaining.” In fact, it’s very difficult to get through. Pain and suffering is never fun. If you’re a parent, this film will scare the bejeezus out of you. What makes it worth watching is the creative and original style of filmmaking, a fantastic script and a brave performance by Tilda Swinton. It’s a shining example of brilliant independent filmmaking.