One of the fears that probably a lot of people have when thinking about parenthood may be whether or not they are truly ready to raise a child. I’d imagine that a lot of personal sacrifices and lifestyle changes would have to be made, especially on the mother’s side. Another deep-rooted concern is thinking about how they’re kid may view the world as they are growing up. Will they treat people with love and compassion? or will they end up harboring unbridled malice and antipathy towards everything. In We Need to Talk About Kevin, these fears turn into reality when Kevin comes into Eva’s life.
Based on Lionel Shriver’s novel of the same name, We Need to Talk About Kevin explores a tale between a rather contentious relationship between a mother named Eva (played by Tilda Swinton) and her disturbingly conniving son, Kevin, who’s played by various actors as he’s growing up (but mostly portrayed by Ezra Miller during his teenage years).
One of the remarkable qualities that immediately strike you when watching this film is how it intensely enraptures you on a visual level. We Need to Talk About Kevin sort of reminded me of Perfect Blue because they both mesh together surreal-dreamlike scenes with real life moments, almost to the point where it is hard to distinguish and separate the lines between them. I thought this was a cool way to tell the story because it does a great job of making you question the mental state of the mother. At times I wondered if she was an unreliable narrator since a lot o the moments in the film play out as fragmented memories that’s told entirely from her perspective; maybe the mother is only showing us what she wants us to see since the truth may be too painful to bear.
Before marrying and settling down to have children, which is shown in some flashback sequences, Eva was full of vigor and enjoyed traveling around the world and writing about her various adventures. One of her fond memories was taking part in a tomato-throwing festival in Spain; drenched in the color of red. Once the flashback is over, we see Eva as a different person entirely. She’s haggard, constantly apprehensive, a ghost of her former self. She walks out of her slightly decrepit house to shockingly find her front door and car ransacked with red-colored paint that mockingly reminds her of happier times in her life.
Even though you could make the case that Kevin may have been inherently born as a spiteful sociopath, I feel like Eva was somewhat responsible for his son developing a nihilistic outlook and ultimately committing terrible atrocities later on. Throughout Kevin’s childhood, Eva kept on ruminating on what her life may have been like if Kevin was never born, and she once even bluntly told him in a fit of rage that his existence was pretty much a burden to her (ouch). Even though the story is told in a non-linear fashion, it wasn’t hard to predict how things would turn out between them; it was a disaster waiting to happen.
All in all, I found We Need to Talk About Kevin to be an immensely painful yet thought-provoking movie at the same time. Eva’s story is about coming to grips with a perpetual nightmare and also brooding about how she might’ve regretfully played a role in it. This film will emotionally gut you and definitely isn’t an easy watch, but it is a movie that is worth a watch due to it’s solid performances all-around, and also since it paints a very interesting character study on nature versus nurture.