One Liner Review:
A Poorly told film about a boy who grows up to be a mass murderer and the mother who had trouble raising him.
We need to talk about Kevin is a movie that takes the columbine / kids killing each other in a school massacre situation and looks at it from a different Point of view. this movie looks at it from the perspective of the mother of the boy. and even more than that, it traces through the boy’s life, from before he was even born all the way up until he does the terrible deed. and by doing this, it hopes to show how someone could have gotten this way. it’s intentions are in the right place, and yet it doesn’t really work the way it should have.
that’s because it assumes that by showing the boy growing up over time it will automatically provide us with explanations. and it doesn’t. the movie doesn’t work because it tries to be artistic and abstract, when it should be making it’s ideas clear. one thing that certainly would have been a helpful addition, would be interviews with the main characters, after the event. maybe even a fake documentary made after the massacre that chronicles Kevin’s life, with the mother’s interpretation of what was happening, told through interviews. perhaps the filmmakers felt that would have been cheating, breaking the show don’t tell rule, but it would have also given us more of an understanding.
the movie begins with Tilda Swinton’s character, Eva, in the middle of a sort of festival where people are covering each other with red liquid. this is a famous celebration in Europe where people throw tomatoes and dump tomato sauce on each other, only the movie doesn’t show us that it’s tomatoes. instead, it wants us to think maybe it’s blood. the movie continues this theme of red liquid over and over again. one of the next scenes is of Eva stepping out of her house, after the massacre has taken place, and seeing the outside of her house covered in splattered red paint. at least this makes sense, although the movie has not told us anything about why people might be upset with her yet.
this movie acts as if we haven’t seen the trailer and don’t really know what it’s about, and tries to hide from us the real content for the longest time. we don’t actually learn what Kevin did, for example, until the very end of the film. now I understand not showing it until the end, and not giving much in the ways of details about it, but considering that the movie jumps back and forth through time, often showing us the aftermath, you would think that there would be some talk about what he did.
but this movie wants to play games with the viewer. that’s the reason why it jumps back and forth through time, showing us how people in the town look at the mom, afterwards and say terrible things to her. I suppose the reason for telling us so little about what he did is to keep us guessing, but it ends up being more frustrating than rewarding.
since the approach of this movie is to show Kevin’s entire life, from the moment he was born, and to show how he could have gotten like this, you would think that the movie would start him off as somewhat normal. I mean, children aren’t just born hating their parents. only the movie pretends that this boy really is. Kevin won’t stop crying when he’s around his mother, when he is just an infant. anytime she is with him, he shrieks. she rolls the baby carriage around in the street and he won’t stop freaking out. she even rolls it over to some guys who are doing construction, drilling through the ground, hoping that the drilling will block out the sounds of Kevin’s screams. only it doesn’t.
so the infant stuff doesn’t really make sense, but neither does the stuff about the very young Kevin. before he can even learn to talk, he stares at his mom with hatred. he refuses to roll a ball back to her that she gently rolls over to him. I could understand if there was a reason for him to hate her, like if she was always yelling, or was never nice to him. but she isn’t like that at all. she’s a little awkward, for sure, but that’s nothing too crazy, and certainly nothing that would warrant this.
the father is played by john c. Reilly, and he’s basically playing the same gentle, nice guy that he plays in most movies. he’s dim-witted and unaware of what’s happening, but even he should realize at a certain Point that there is something not quite right about his son. the movie shows how Eva is concerned throughout Kevin’s life, and constantly brings it to the attention of Franklin (Reilly), but he pays her no attention or doesn’t believe her. at one Point he does make an interesting argument, which is that she always says he’s doing bad things, whether it’s that he never talks or that he talks too much, whether it’s that he refuses to play or plays too violently. still, you would think at some Point he would give her the benefit of the doubt, even if it was just to play devil’s advocate, and say “let me see if there’s any truth to what she’s been saying.”
the movie does get better as it goes on, but that’s hardly saying much considering that the first ten minutes were absolutely terrible. in those first ten minutes, it was very hard to follow or understand what was going on, or why the things that we were watching were important. and then Kevin is born, and we get scenes about him crying. from there, he starts to grow up little by little, and the parents give him choices or ask him if it’s okay about everything they want to do. when in the car, for example, Eva asks her young son if it’s okay for her to make a stop and take care of something. you don’t ask your kid that. you tell him, “I need to stop off here for a minute.”
I realize that this is the movie’s attempt at showing how Kevin got to be the way he is, because his parents never said no to him or disciplined him, but it’s still a little much. what would have made much more sense is if Kevin was the product of abusive parents. if maybe he was adopted, and we didn’t really know what his biological parents were like. instead, Kevin is the son of two very nice people who do anything and everything for him, including buying him a bow and arrow toy, at a very young age, and teaching him archery throughout his life. if the movie’s intention is to show how many ways these parents screwed up, than it misses some very obvious beats. why did they never make their son talk to a therapist? where are the grandparents? how did the mother never think to record her son, so that she could prove to her husband what was happening? the movie does build in suspense and it does hold our attention, but it also makes a lot of mistakes. on top of that, this is in no way a feel good movie, or a movie that leaves you with any Positive vibes at all. there’s no hope at the end of this picture. it was simply made to show us another Point of view to the same story that we’ve already heard again and again. the intentions were good, but the execution here is very Poor.