Adapted and directed by Lynne Ramsay, We Need to Talk About Kevin is a film about a normal, everyday family that is packed with problems between mother and son that lead to grave consequences. If you think it’s a good option for family movie night, think again!
The film centers around the mother-son relationship played by Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller. Eva Khatchadourian is a successful career woman, free spirited until she her once exciting life takes a turn after the birth of her son. As the child grows, Eva finds herself at war with a disturbed child and having to deal with unusual behaviors like constant screaming and car vandalism. Matters then become worse when the child commits a crime that not only shakes the entire family, but also the local community.
The plot raises a lot of sensitive issues pertaining to family life, yet Ramsay manages to present them in a way that is not off-putting to the audience. As the story focuses in on Eva’s life through flashbacks and snippets, it becomes evident that she is stricken with grief and guilt, as she is faced with an unbalanced teenage son, who cannot control himself or his emotions, especially when it comes to his mother.
Swinton gives a powerful performance, capturing the emotions of her character and bringing the audience along with her on the ride. Her subtle demeanor and cautious expressions succeed in making a distinction between her past life and the current life she longs to leave. Miller demonstrates unsettling behavior that is far worse than the typical rebellious child, and the chemistry between him and Swinton creates an intense dynamic that brilliantly captures the rich depth of their unusual relationship.
The narrative aspect of the film paves the way for a melodramatic setting, and Eva’s experiences and reflections make it an emotional experience for moviegoers. In fact, that is one of the key elements that draws audiences toward the film. We Need to Talk About Kevin raises questions about parenthood and what it means to be a good mother, and although it is filled with tense moments, it is something worth seeing. Moviegoers will leave the theatre wondering, was Kevin born bad, or is he simply a result of Eva’s laments?