Eva Katchoudorian (Swinton) is by most measuring sticks, a wonderful, loving mother. Unfortunately she is plagued by a son that exhibits all the signs of being a serial killer, a deranged lunatic, a sadistic freak, and a serial manipulator. Her loving husband Franklin (Reilly) is blind to her diurnal struggles as an aggrieved mother. Their son Kevin (Jasper Newell) spends his waking hours tormenting his mother. The instant his father arrives home his attitude is sickeningly sweet and adoring. Franklin is hardly ever privy to his son's machinations and misdeeds. Kevin is ever-meticulous is hiding his actions from his father. No gesture from his mother is accepted and all of her kindness is repaid in insults, threats, and backlashes. It is quickly evident that Kevin responds only to violence and meanness. It took him years to become potty trained because he is an exhibitionist. The only factor that encouraged a behavioral correction had been the one time his mother retaliated by breaking his arm. This recalibrated his behavior el quicko. He responds only to pain and cruelty.
This is the perfect time to inform readers that there are two stories dominating the film that are at all times in danger of colliding. The first portion is about Kevin's bizarre and troubled childhood when he had been incapable of establishing feelings or emotions. The second is the aftermath. In his teenage years, Kevin has gone on a shooting (the details are too revealing to mention without ruining the movie for you) spree at school. Many are injured or killed and the town is forever changed. Not only does Eva have to endure a destroyed marriage, she also has to contend with the chronic hatred aimed at her by everyone in town. She is the most hated person alive next to her psychotic son that is rotting in prison where he brags about his impact on society vis a vis perpetrating a bloodbath. Her life, though seldom easy once Kevin was born, is flipped upside down and she never experiences a moment of joy or solace. Even the birth of their second child never tempered Kevin's anger, it only exacerbated the problem. His jealousy spiraled out of control.
We Need to Talk About Kevin is filled with salient imagery. Director Lynne Ramsay floods this film with symbolism. The color red is flaunted about with jelly, paint, and blood. At all times it surrounds Kevin and indicates his proclivity for mayhem and destruction. Everywhere he goes there is pain and suffering. In a sense, by never seeking psychiatric assistance for Kevin, there is blood on her hands. When the film begins Eva's house and body are covered in red paint as is her car windshield and her shoes. Tilda Swinton captures the emotions of her character seemingly with such ease and appears to feel so much pain that one cannot help but to believe she is one of the greatest pure actresses of her time. Look for We Need Talk About Kevin to win several nominations. It is not easy to watch but it sure is worth it, if you can stand it.
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