We Need to Talk About Kevin

“Kinda surprised I hadn’t previously blogged this movie. It’s so intense and affecting, I’m pretty sure I left the theater stunned and dumbfounded. I’ve heard it said that if you could watch this film (or read he book) and STILL want kids afterwards, you’re prolly in good shape to be a parent. I read the book after seeing it listed on what became a reading checklist for me, an article about the ten best psychopaths in literature. And we wonder why I was ever drawn to this story.

While it’s technically about Kevin, at the heart, the story really more about his mother Eva. She never quite finds a way to bond with her son, and becomes convinced that there’s something wrong with both of them. To her husband, Franklin, and the rest of the world, he’s the perfect kid. But she knows the truth. He’s evil and she’s incapable of loving him.

The film shows the relationship in a slightly different light than the book. On the screen, we have a bit more shock value, more focus on Kevin’s actions. The non-linear format helps that. We’ve got three basic timelines: before Kevin, during Kevin, after Kevin. We then bounce back and forth between the three which each play out chronologically with a few intermittent flashes out of sequence. I remember being confused at first, trying to figure out the timeline. Go by Eva’s hair. Long and wild, short and tidy, in between and unkempt, respectively. The book is more linear, with allusions to what will happen, but most everything happens in order. That heightens the movie a bit more, but we lose something important from the books: Eva’s perspective. The book is told as letters from Eva to Franklin after everything has played out. On film, we just see her heartless and confused. In the book, we get more of her internal struggle and thoughts. She seems less cold and more sympathetic. Not saying that one is better than the other, but you do get different perspectives.

The book of course gives a more full picture, but the movie boasts an incredible cast. Tilda Swinton was this close to an Oscar nomination as Eva (her downfall was the film’s slow and limited release). John C Reilly, Hollywood’s best every man, is a wonderfully jolly and oblivious Franklin. For me, the real revelation is Ezra Miller as Kevin. Such intensity. You will have nightmares about this kid. And yet, he’s able to turn on a dime. He spews hatred at his Mom then quickly switches to the son from Sesame Street with his dad. He went on to play Patrick in Perks of Being a Wallflower, a character who couldn’t be more different, but utilized a lot of the same big energy and spirit.

So as previously stated, if you can watch this, and not be scared off from having kids one day, you’ll be fine when you do. It’s scary enough to give you second thoughts, but learn from Eva’s misakes. Understand that Kevin is not the norm. Just enjoy the thrill for two hours and then be thankful that ain’t your kid.”