By “THIS”, I mean the film:
We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011)
which is now my favorite film of the year! (i know, its only january, but so far, this is the STUFF)
In brief: superb everything. Superb script (based on the fictional book by Lionel Shriver), superb acting (Tilda Swinton, anyone?!), superb cinematography (it’s pretty much visual poetry)…I was hooked from the very first scene of Tilda’s character, Eva, in the midst of a mass tomato fight (probably the annual one in Spain): bodies squished together, the color red forming the canvas of the scene, Eva blissfully splashing in the red juice…it’s stunning.
[I posted a trailer for the film in my previous post; go look at it]
The plot unfolds in the same manner that one would think back upon the past in a stream of consciousness; the chronology is broken, certain moments are slower and emotionally-heavier, the present interrupts abruptly as Eva is thrust back into cold reality.
I keep hearing people say its a film about a sociopath/psychopath/murderer and yes, thats one of the main elements of the story-line, but I found the themes of GUILT & PARENTHOOD much more interesting in this film. How is a parent to feel when they think they have done everything right in raising a child only to see that child become a nihilistic murderer?! Are they to blame? Is there a level of responsibility that the parent must face? How are children reflections of their parents?
Perhaps Eva’s uncertain and ambivalent approach to parenting is so obvious to her son; from the very first days of being a mother to Kevin, Eva is in agony and isn’t enjoying one bit of it, as much as she tries to pretend. Even Kevin picks up on this as a child and tells her that she is only “used to him” but doesn’t like him. Kevin, on the other hand, seems to have this strange resentment for his mother and is always opposing her and doing everything he can to upset, annoy and frustrate her. His life goal is to push Eva to the brink of despair and bring out the worst in her. And Ezra Miller is chilling as Kevin; his smirks and arrogance make Kevin almost comical until you remember that he’s a sociopathic murderer.
Kevin’s last line (I think) in the film is so simple but relates to Eva’s decision on motherhood. When Eva finally asks him “why?”:
I used to think I know. Now I’m not so sure.
Maybe she felt the same way about having children. In any case, his motivation for battling his mother all of his life has seemed to dissipate at the end of the film after being in prison for 2 years. His previous explanation had been something akin to wanting attention from the masses; the kind of attention that criminals and psychopaths on TV shows get from audiences. I’m still ruminating on those lines…
To add to the psycho-horror feel of the film, Lynne Ramsay (director) lets the mystery of the vague and unexplained seep into the plot. There’s always greater fear in the anticipation of what the audience expects and greater horror at what hasn’t been shown but only hinted at. For example, a brief scene at the beginning of the film shows Celia, Kevin’s little sister, sitting at the kitchen counter with her back to the camera, singing a song to her stuffed animal. The camera moves closer and closer to Celia until she turns around and looks into the camera… with an eyepatch. *chills run down my spine*
Film Critic Dustin Putman puts it nicely: the film “has a fitting title; once seen, it will be impossible for viewers to hold back on their conversations about it.” And he’s right! Go watch it and just TRY to not talk about it.