R, 1 hr. 52 min. Directed By: Lynne Ramsay. Release Date: Jan 13, 2012. DVD Release Date: May 29, 2012.
I know a movie’s good when my reactions are all over the place and I don’t have any complaint about what I saw. We Need to Talk About Kevin is one of those movies. I had strong, emotional reactions to this, and my righteous indignation button has been pushed. I'm not exactly famous for wearing kid gloves, although I do sometimes couch my words in my expectation of response, but here, I'm just going to vent.
My riff is going to be out how the people of the town treat Tilda Swinton’s character. What in the hell is wrong with people? Her own son kills everyone in her family before he goes on to massacre students in his school, and the families of Kevin's victims sue her for every cent she's worth. No matter what anyone thinks she was guilty of, she had clearly suffered enough. And yet, we’re treated to scene after scene of the small-town yokels assaulting her, vandalizing her ramshackle home, and harassing her in stores, in her home, and on the streets. I’ve never lived in a town where this kind of thing happened, never known anyone that was impacted by one of these Columbine-like events, but one of the things they seem to have in common is the person in the bell tower has spent their life being bullied by their victims. I’m not condoning the violence, just noting the pattern. Adults should be smarter than this. Hell, kids should be smarter than this, especially since we have more than one terrible, terrible precedent now.
Truth, I’d have recommended that Eva defend herself. Probably with a gun. But then, I live in Texas, where I generally assume I’m the only one not packing heat.
Other than that, I thought Eva with her unpronounceable last name (Swinton) is probably one of the strongest women in literature. She endured what her son did and then the harassment that followed. No complaint, no attempt to fight back. No attempt to try and rebuild her own life. She tolerates being shunned by everyone. Tolerates life without friends or family. Tolerates the unending blame. She didn’t lose her mind, or resort to drugs or alcohol. I don’t understand why she wouldn’t have left town. Started out somewhere else. But, admittedly, this wouldn’t be the story (or movie) that this was if she had.
We Need to Talk About Kevin was an awesome piece of film making, but not a fun one. It talks about a lot of tender subjects: violence in schools, sociopathy, abuse, bullying, and more. I don’t think anyone’s going to be able to see this movie and not have a strongly emotional reaction. Not necessarily mine, but wherever your own personality and beliefs are going to send you. Definitely add this to your queue, or to your rentals at the next trip to the video store.
I do have one caveat. If you are one of those people for whom time MUST be represented as a linear construct, by which I mean a movie must flow from beginning, to middle, to end, you’re probably going to have a problem here. Time isn’t exactly a priority, and the movie bounces back and forth within an 18 year old span frequently.