Cast: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller
Director: Lynne Ramsay
In lieu of my previous female directors post, I decided to finally see We Need To Talk About Kevin. I have been aware of its buzz, particularly the acting abilities of Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller. The film certainly did not disappoint, and while I was expecting it to be something else, the narrative of how the film was presented seemed fitting, as it wasn't the final act that was the focus of the film, but the relationship between the mother and her child.
Eva was a free spirit. She was an adventurous soul, always travelling from one place to another. A relationship with Franklin turned her life around when she became pregnant with their child, Kevin. Kevin was a strange, sullen boy, and he and his mother never quite gotten along. No matter how hard she tried to forge a bond with her son, it never quite worked out. As the movie progressed, we get to see how Eva’s life turns out before and after Kevin’s monstrous act.
I have never seen a parent-child relationship as cold as theirs was. Not in real life, nor in movies. When there’s a dysfunctional relationship between parents, there always seemed to be some kind of reason behind it, which then the actor would eventually explain. For this film, we don’t get any kind of explanation as to why Kevin was such, because we never really see into his thoughts. We see Kevin the way Eva sees Kevin. While she was a reluctant mother at first, and how awkward she seemed to handle Kevin during his younger years, it’s safe to say that over time, her maternal instincts has somewhat evolved. She’s more attentive to her second child, and while she still tries, she never has that kind of motherly bond with her son.
The film was paced in a way that there weren't any secrets, that we know what would happen eventually. There were no surprises, but rather it’s presented in a manner that we see how their life was, and how everything could have just unraveled like that. There were little signs, signs that may just seem to be in passing, but actually holds a darker tone. Then we see the life after the incident, how Eva is trying to hold herself together while living in a world of taunt and misery. It’s presented in a way that we’re able to keep up with the past and present, but everything was just in the eyes of Eva, and never Kevin’s. The last scene was my favorite, however, as we get to see a glimpse of Kevin’s thoughts, but it left me wondering, whether it was an act, or was he sincere of the reasoning he gave her.
As the movie went on, I had the idea that Kevin knew his mother’s impatience with him, and as time went by, his thoughts just stayed constant, that his mother hated him. Although that doesn't really explain why he did all he did, it gives some sort of view on how he views his relationship with his mother. Take the dinner scene for example. There Eva was, trying to strike a conversation when Kevin just rebuts everything, every word she was going to say, every step she was going to take. Eva always knew that there was something different with her son, but with her husband’s prodding, it was always placed aside, which leads me to my other theory. I think there are two reasons why Kevin left his mother alive. Based on their relationship alone, Kevin could have been showing her what was real, and putting an act for his father and sister. He might not have killed her because he wants her to be as miserable as possible, losing the two people that keep her sane. It’s that, or he actually loves his mother, and his hatred for her is his way of showing it. Then again, I may be reading to the whole thing in a different kind of light.
Tilda Swinton was amazing as Eva. She might have not talked a lot, and there really was minimal dialogue, but her expressions and the way she held herself showed a lot of emotion. It wasn't hard to decipher her actions, but it was the transformation that sold me to her character. She was someone who was adventurous, and has a strong mind, and despite motherhood not really fitting for her, she had effort. After the whole incident, she was suddenly reduced to taunt and mockery, trying to disappear, a broken person. Ezra Miller’s performance was really great as well. Since people don’t really know what’s going on with Kevin, he has to play him with conviction, that something is truly wrong with him. If played differently, it would not have been as powerful, but Miller embodied Kevin’s personality and brought him to life. He has been in the industry for some time but this was his breakout role, and I think we can expect great things from him in the future.
I’m not one to usually pay attention to sound track but the music chosen stood out of the film. It seemed like two different entities when put together, and it’s a good thing because some movies tend to swallow their music. The usage of red was predominant here, from the beginning until the end. The big incident was left unseen until the very end, and it wasn't shown in a gruesome way. For Kevin it was more of an art, and he heard the screams as cheers, putting in his head that what he did was masterful, without counting that his mother would have to live with his actions. It’s actually a good style, to film everything in the mother’s point of view, because in cases like these, people usually look inside at the mind of the killer, but not the people who’s lives he affect on a daily basis. Mothers and their children are deemed to have a strong bond, so why not his mother? Is it because of their disconnection that Kevin appeared to be that way? Or did he pick it up from a different environment or observation? It’s always going to be an open question.
All in all, We Need to Talk About Kevin is an interesting film coupled with great performances. It shows the terror of being disconnected to your child, and ultimately, a different side to being a mother. I've had my reservations before seeing this, but its a good film. When you think your child is acting strange, better nip that thought in the bud.