Director: Lynne Ramsay
Starring: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilley, Ezra Miller
Kids can really be scary and disturbing. Take Joshua, for instance: he’s a little wicked demon cast inside a seemingly normal family. And there’s nothing more threatening than normal things turning out to be the opposite. But, you now, you take movies like Joshua just for what they are: thrillers/horrors. For thought they may be creepy and disturbing, you see their cinematic and fictional effects. You see the plot.
Then there are other movies, like We Need to Talk About Kevin. In short, and in IMDB’s words: “The mother of a teenage boy who went on a high-school killing spree tries to deal with her grief – and feelings of responsibility for her child’s actions.”
The story is entirely told through her memories and perspective. As she tries to start a new life, metaphorically cleaning up the new house, she scratches the surface not only of those walls, but also of her memories’ walls. Through her flashbacks we gradually find out what really happened and, above all, like her we strive to understand why and how.
Kevin is clearly a disturbed child, right from the beginning. She knows that something is wrong with him. We know too. Her husband, instead, doesn’t notice and that makes her feel like an unfit mother – also because that little ass wants her to feel like that. So she’s deeply conflicted about the evil that she sees in her son and the natural love of a mother. She knows, but she doesn’t really act. And that makes you wonder, at the end, whether things could have gone differently if she had said to her husband: “We need to talk about Kevin”.
In many ways, Kevin’s character is as disturbing as Joshua’s. But, as I said, this is a quite different movie. Though it’s not a true story (it’s an adaptation of 2003 Lionel Shiver’s novel), it conveys that precise feeling. The way is told, through rough and uneven memories, makes it so real. Like reading a diary. Or looking inside someone’s mind. Plus, it totally engages the viewers: as we embrace the mother’s perspective, we perfectly understand what she feels. And, like her, we start to feel guilty as well. We start to look for reasons and someone to blame but, in the end, it all comes back to Kevin himself. Who is just innately evil.
A painful drama, a gripping psychological thriller, a great movie.
“It’s like this: you wake and watch TV, get in your car and listen to the radio you go to your little jobs or little school, but you don’t hear about that on the 6 o’clock news, why? ‘Cause nothing is really happening, and you go home and watch some more TV and maybe it’s a fun night and you go out and watch a movie. I mean it’s got so bad that half the people on TV, inside the TV, they’re watching TV. What are these people watching, people like me?”