Sep 4, 2012

I need to talk about We Need to Talk about Kevin

"I used to think I knew. Now I'm not so sure."
I watched a film this morning and I have a feeling it was one of those films that linger in your mind and reserve a spot somewhere in the back of your head. It was also one of the best films I've seen in a good while. Granted, I haven't been watching too many films in a good while, but still.
We Need to Talk about Kevin is a story of an unusual relationship between a mother and a child. That relationship is supposed to be a tender, caring one, full of unconditional devotion, loyalty and love. What if, for some unexplicable reason, it isn't so? What if a mother isn't able to love her own child, as something about that child just seems to be off? Is it the child's fault, or the mother's? Is it anyone's fault? Is it so that the mother doesn't really love the child, because there is something wrong with him? Or is it so that there is something wrong with the child because his mother never really loved him?
The films plays with a lot of questions, but doesn't give any straightforward answers. And you can't really be handing out any absolute truths, when the topic is this. We are so deep in the darkest corners of the human mind, that no one can know for sure what's going on. When a 15-year-old boy does something like Kevin in the film, you can bet everything hasn't been completely okay in the environment he grew up in. On the other hand, you can also bet that some other child growing up in a similar environment wouldn't turn out the same psychopathic way. It's about the balance between nature and nuture, how they both mold a person, and how sometimes the combination of the two results in a sick, violent mind.
You don't hear many stories about the families of the young men who shock and terrify and anger the world with their mindless acts. It's a very difficult subject, because you don't know whether you should feel sorry for them or blame them. Maybe both. I kind of expected We Need to Talk About Kevin to be a story about a poor, poor mother, who despite her best, sincere efforts, couldn't stop her son from doing a horrible thing, because she didn't see it coming. Instead of this (kind of boring-sounding) tale, we get a mother who definitely is not a saint, either. You can see how she's losing it from the beginning, how she just doesn't know how to be a mother to her son. And as he grows up to be, frankly speaking, a completely horrible, manipulative brat, you just know there's no way of fixing the rotten relationship. And everyone suffers.
Tilda Swinton is just magnificent in this film. I can't really imagine anyone else giving such perfect, soul-bearing performance, and conveying the mother's silent suffering like that. Damn, the headwork she must have done, preparing for the role. And we will definitely be seeing more from the young kid, Ezra Miller, who is so chilling and creepy as Kevin that I'm convinced he's actually a psychopath in real life.
It's very interesting to read everyone's thoughts about the film, especially the final scene and how differently everyone has interpreted it. For example, I, as a hopeless optimist, wanted to see a glimpse of sincerety and hope in the final interaction between the mother and the son. Someone else saw the same remorseless Kevin, in another act of manipulation. The beauty of it is that we can't know for sure what was going on. Maybe reading the book might give a hint. I'm definitely going to do that.
It's the night of the day that I began by watching We Need to Talk about Kevin, and my thoughts are still circling around it. I expect this to be one of those films that never quite leave me. And I will see it again. I just need to remember that whenever comes the time when I'll start thinking about having children, I won't be again watching this movie as light early morning entertainment on my day off.

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