I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

We Need To Talk About Kevin

You know what, I’m not sure we do. I don’t want to give that little bastard the satisfaction.

Director Lynne Ramsay’s gritty reboot of the PROBLEM CHILD franchise is a beautifully shot, cryptically edited suspense story about a woman (Tilda Swinton) who just can’t seem to connnect with her son (Ezra Miller). Even as a baby he’s a total asshole, almost Michael Meyersian in his silence and lack of emotion. Nobody else seems to notice – the doctor says “I wouldn’t worry about it,” the dad (John C. Reilly) seems to think she’s being paranoid.

The story is full of mysteries because it skips around in time, deliberately withholding the answers to our questions like “What is the bad thing that happened?” and “Why does everybody blame her?” and “Where is her husband now?” and “Why does the movie open with Tilda in a giant crowd of half naked people dumping Sloppy Joe on each other?” (I never figured out the answer to that last one, but the DVD extras explain that it was filmed at some kind of tomato festival.)

There are lots of good posters for this movie, but I prefer the one that makes it look like a Korean soap opera

You know those horrible people in theaters sometimes who ask stupid questions out loud: what is he doing? Is he dead? and other questions where the answer is everybody else is wondering that too, because the movie wants you to wonder that right now and if you just shut your dumb mouth and watch the fuckin thing you’ll get your question answered when the time is appropriate you dumb asshole? This is a movie that will torture those people more thoroughly than you were fantasizing about while distracted from the movie by their talking. Their brains will be turned so much more mushy that they’ll have trouble logging in to IMDb message boards to declare it the worst movie they’ve ever seen. But they’ll do it somehow.

There are so many little details in this. Kevin’s weird OCD habits – chewing off his fingernails and then lining them up on the table, taking little bits of his bread and rolling them into balls. The Led Zeppellin t-shirt Mom wears, that at first seems to just be nostalgia for her youth, but turns out to have a deeper significance. The blood imagery that follows her everywhere: tomato pulp, red paint splattered on her house, soap mixed with paint on her skin as she tries to clean it off of her house (possible Lady Macbeth reference, motherfuckers). She seems to be marked for some horrible crime. Is she being unfairly persecuted, or deservingly reminded of something she did? She seems to think it’s deserved, so much so that she doesn’t move away, she just accepts the hate and tries to hold her head high.

Also I gotta give credit to the toddler version of Kevin. I don’t even know if he was a special effect or just an actual kid, but he is one of the only babies that you want to punch in the face. He is just a total asshole baby. I hope it’s not too late to have him play the comic strip character Marvin .

To me the movie feels very naturalistic, but my buddy who I sometimes code-name Mr. Armageddon told me he thought she was an unreliable narrator, that everyone and everything seems set against her because that’s how she sees the world, not necessarily because it’s true. And he said that she doesn’t realize that the reason the kid hates her is because she’s hated him her whole life, resented having to have a child because it ruined the great life she used to have traveling around the world getting covered in tomato sauce.

If that was intended I didn’t pick up on any of it. But it’s a much better interpretation than mine because the way I watched it it was a pretty one-dimensional horror concept, kind of hollow beneath all the artful execution, effective creepiness and careful lack of specificity. The entire movie seems based on a primal fear of the young people who won’t get off your lawn, and especially your own children. Kevin is not an anti-christ or a demon, but he’s still an implausible worst-case scenario, a boogeyman. (Well, I guess a boogeyteen, grown from a boogeybaby). It’s still a superstitious idea that this kid could just live to hate people and torment his mom and then… what he does later. Even Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN understood that in real life there are circumstances that lead to these things. Bullying, KISS t-shirts, etc.

That doesn’t seem to be the case with Kevin, so that takes him out of the category of real life menaces to society and puts him in the one with Michael Meyers and Chucky. He doesn’t seem to have any humanity in him at all. Mom tries to reach him, go out to dinner with him and stuff, but any time he’s nice or normal it just seems to be to set her up, or to convince dad and sis that he’s normal, all the more to fuck with mom’s head.

But she still hugs him at the end. I did like that.

I think incomprehensible evil is a good move in a horror movie. It works great in the original TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE. It works great in the original HALLOWEEN. We look at these human monsters and cannot comprehend what the fuck is going on in their heads and that is why they’re scary. And it works here, as a scary movie. But I get the feeling this is supposed to be something more than just scary. It’s all leading up to (HERE IS THE ONE SPOILER FOR THIS MOVIE – ALSO THE ONE THING I KNEW ABOUT IT BECAUSE IT’S IN ALL THE PLOT SUMMARIES BUT LUCKILY I COMPLETELY FORGOT THAT UNTIL I GOT TO THE END OF THE MOVIE) a terrible event inspired by Columbine and similar tragedies. (It’s off screen, not so much out of subtlety as out of what he does not really making any sense, I don’t see how the fuck they would make it believable if they had to actually show it). In real life these things are hard to comprehend but they are done by deranged human beings and not one-dimensional evil entities who live only to terrorize Tilda Swinton.

So as much as I enjoyed it as an artsy-fartsy version of a suspense thriller it kinda left a bad taste in my mouth. I felt like it was pretending to be some sort of reflection of the real world but really just exploits our simple-minded paranoia. I guess it didn’t help that between starting this review and finishing it a real life massacre happened in a neighborhood I know real well, in a place I’ve walked past many times, where friends of mine very easily could’ve been. I feel like there are a million factors that lead to these tragedies and we can’t really understand them, but we at least know it’s not just a person who was born evil and nobody believe mom and told her it would be okay and he gave her an evil smile before he did it.

I give this movie credit, but personally I prefer ORPHAN. It’s actually kinda the opposite of WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, not just because the tone is deliberately pulpy and outlandish, but because it’s about people who desperately want to be parents and can’t so they adopt, instead of ones that are real bummed that they have to have children instead of enjoying the outdoor spaghetti sauce wrestling parties that they would be able to have if they weren’t tied down. But it plays off of similar parenting fears and nobody-believes-me paranoia in a way that’s equally creepy but way more crazy and fun. It also has its adult heroine punching a little girl in public and her kids using a gun.

By the way, they never do talk about Kevin. That’s gonna disappoint alot of people I think.

But it’s a well made movie, definitely not run-of-the-mill, I would recommend it for people who enjoy a less straight forward, not spoon fed approach to what could be a standard thriller.


VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Thursday, June 7th, 2012 at 4:45 pm and is filed under Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

50 Responses to “We Need To Talk About Kevin”

  1. I really liked this movie. Spoilers ahead, I guess:

    I don’t get the ‘unreliable narrator’ claims, and I’ve heard it a lot. I think it’s all very straightforward, and the big takeaway for me is that at the end Kevin realizes he loves his mom. She’s the only one he’s ever shown his true self to, and that’s because she has in herself the sociopathic elements that are in him. They’re birds of a feather, but he’s far more active about it. At first it seems like he doesn’t kill her because he wants her to suffer, but then you realize he didn’t kill her because he loved her.

    So the scariest thing ISN’T that he’s a devil baby – it’s that he’s not that different from her, deep inside.

  2. “Director Lynne Ramsay’s gritty reboot of the PROBLEM CHILD franchise.”

    Hysterical. Love it.

  3. This is one of the few films I can’t talk about, just out of the sheer mind numbing conversations I end up having. I can’t talk about we can’t talk about kevin but I’ll try.

    Kid is painted like Mike Myers and belongs in a horror film. Already that eliminates most of the useful conversations parents can ever have about raising their own kids. And that’s kind of lame because why did they make this movie? I didn’t read the book, so maybe the answer lies there.

    A lot of extravagent visuals. Like the tomato party and the final scene in the gym, but they belong in dreams, not reality. Or nightmares.

    Frankly I just don’t understand what this movie is saying, and that bothers me more than Kevin.

  4. Yeah, I wanted to punch that toddler in the face, too. Little fucker…

    Seriously though, I really loved this film. So haunting and tragic, but balls-creepy at the same time (in a realistic way, which made it even more intense). The unreliable narrator theory is interesting, but that’s not how I read it – I thought everything was pretty clear-cut.

    One of the most interesting (and affecting) aspects of the story was the heartbreak and guilt that Eva carried around. She was truly marked, both by the events that had happened and how they affected her moving forward. Debatable though her role in them was, she KNEW that she held at least a portion of the responsibility for what happened, and she bore her punishment accordingly.

    Also, not sure if I want kids now. They’re freaking terrifying.

  5. haven’t seen this one yet (it comes out here at the end of this month), and therefore only skimmed the review, but thought i would chime in to translate the “korean drama” poster. the title translates more or less to “The Boy Who Shot the Bow of Cruelty,” and the text in red on the upper right translates to, “Mom, do I frighten you?”

    p.s. holy shit, how long has devin faraci been hangin out here?

  6. dude, are you THE Devin Faraci?

  7. Devin, I like your interpretation of the movie better than mine.

  8. griff – we’ve got a solid celebrity ring of Vernite commentators so far if this is true.

    (Albert Pyun was the highlight for me IMO.)

  9. When the movie was going around the festival circle, I kept reading its name over and over, with critics praising it without really saying what it was about. So it took me a while to realize that it was NOT some kind of mumblecore comedy about a socially awkward 40+ manchild, who still lives in his parents’ house. (Face it: THat’s what the title sounds like.)

  10. I don’t buy unreliable narrator either. I thought Kevin was one of those kids that just came out wrong. There’s nature and nurture but it does happen sometimes.

    I liked it. I think it’s important to explore these things. But how did she ever leave that kid alone with his sister? That kid is not a reliable guardian.

  11. Ina completly different subject, yesterday night i saw PROMEHTEUS and i feel a bit bummed out. It’s a frustrating movie. And i blame most of what’s wrong on Damon “Pupil of JarJar” Lindenoff. Clearly it’s a movie writen by the makers of LOST, for our sins. I’m certain sooner or later Vern will write his review of the movie. Then i can unleash my frustrations (and my positive opinions as well) of the movie.

    I have been interested in watching “We Need To Talk About Kevin” fpor quite a bit already. Looks like an interesting movie. And contrary to the average geekdom member, i do have tolerance for more off-beat movies that don’t follow formula slavishly. Sometimes they happen to be the more satisfying, when well made by talented filmmakers (Nicolas Winding Refn, for example).

  12. Devin Faraci, i have heard of him from his reviews for british film magazine EMPIRE. And aparently he’s also a big cheese in CHUD, but i very rarely visit that site. I seem to recall he almost got regular on AICN too, but it never come to fruition.

    I remember Albert Pyun both in here and at AICN. He proved to be a very good sport and very informative about his movies and with a good sense of humour about them and himself. He also told some funny stories about the making of his movies. for a guy who’s constantly called among the worst directors alive, he proved to be quite a good sport and a nice guy. The same can’t be said people like about Michael Bay (asshole extraordinaire) or JJ Abrams (fake friendliness for the sake of hardsale).

  13. “So it took me a while to realize that it was NOT some kind of mumblecore comedy about a socially awkward 40+ manchild, who still lives in his parents’ house”

    AKA a movie about my future

  14. Devin’s interpretation also works for PROBLEM CHILD.

  15. “It’s still a superstitious idea that this kid could just live to hate people….”

    Nope. That total lack of empathy, malice from day one, pleasure in other’s suffering, are all classic signs of a clinical sociopath. The Inuit actually had a word for such people–kunlaangetta, which translates into something like, “A person who is not a person inside”; and a highly effective form of treatment that pretty much ensured there were not many repeat offenders (they’d take them out onto an ice flow; and they wouldn’t bring them back).

  16. Cj, Griff and JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME sounds like that even more but it’s actually a spiritual treatise on destiny, and M Night Shyamalan.

  17. Too much to talk about with this movie so instead will just focus on the biggest mystery of all. In what world is John C. Reilly with Tilda Swinton? And immediately after this movie, he’s with Jodie Foster in Carnage!?! Too me his face looks like he’s been in the bath about 3 days too long, or is allergic to pine but couldn’t help himself at christmas and charged in face first, or perhaps just that his Turkish wife has stopped shaving recently? Am I missing some inherent mega sex appeal with Reilly or something?

    Anyone? Ladies? Majestyk?

  18. I highly recommend John C Reilly in WALK HARD: THE DEWEY COX STORY. My favorite movie of the last ten years. Brilliant stuff.

  19. Jareth Cutestory

    June 8th, 2012 at 6:43 am

    Now you just know that for the rest of my life I’m going to mis-remember that movie title as GRIFF WHO LIVES AT HOME.

  20. It is funny because I dont know what he is doing with Tilda Swinton. Beutiful she is not.

  21. Has anyone read the NY Times article “Can You Call a 9 Year Old a Psychopath?”? Fascinating and frightening stuff. It definitely changed the way I felt about “We Need to Talk About Kevin”. There doesn’t always need to be a reason, I guess.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/magazine/can-you-call-a-9-year-old-a-psychopath.html?_r=1

  22. “Now you just know that for the rest of my life I’m going to mis-remember that movie title as GRIFF WHO LIVES AT HOME.”

    hahaha

  23. Griff, go find yourself a couple roommates (strangers, preferably) and move the fuck out. Don’t think about how you can’t afford it and all the good reasons why it’s smart to save money on rent. Just do it. Even if they’re assholes and the apartment is a shithole (correction: *especially*) it’ll make a new man of you. Context is everything. Put yourself in a new setting and you’ll be surprised how fast you evolve.

  24. AU: I have never found Tilda Swinton the least bit attractive. Even if she didn’t look like David Bowie in his Thin White Duke period, the pit stains in MICHAEL CLAYTON pretty much deaded any sex appeal she might possess. So I think her and Riley are probably a perfect match. He’s pitted and doughy, she’s angular and pointy. They complement each other.

  25. I can see how she’d be your type, though. Give her a mohawk, some greasepaint, and shoulderpads made out of old tires and she’d be just the type of berserkess you could take home to mama, provided you hadn’t killed and eaten her all those years ago. Sentiment is for the weak, after all, and mom was slowing down the raiding party. Be fast or be food, you always say.

  26. Vern:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomatina

    Could we import this to the USA? Or please someone tell me such a festival already existing somewhere Stateside?

    There’s something awesome about a bunch of strangers getting together and pelting each other with tomatoes.

    Don’t psychoanalyze me, this is not misplaced violence or sexuality on my part. I said don’t psychoanalyze me! I’m not being defensive!

  27. Ah… should read my own link:

    The City of Reno, Nevada in the United States also has an annual hour long tomato fight that started in 2009. The event seems to take place on the last Sunday of August, and is organized by the American Cancer Society. Organizers also named the festival La Tomatina, and give full credit for the idea to the Spanish festival.[2]

    Milwaukee’s East Side Association holds an annual Tomato Romp during September in coordination with a Bloody Mary drink contest. Held since at least 2009 it is limited to 250 people in a caged-in area.

    Too far from New York. Maybe I should be a entrepreneur here…

  28. I’ve seen so much disturbing shit that I found it ironic that I couldn’t sit through this movie in it’s entirety cause I felt awkward watching it. Sometimes a more psychological type of horror is the best kind for better or worse. I ever end up with a kid like this I don’t give a fuck I’m sending the kid to hell myself.

  29. I’m with you, Broddie. I have a much higher tolerance for disgusting than I do for awkward. Between HUMAN CENTIPEDE and CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, CURB is the one I’ll watch through my fingers.

  30. We Need To Talk About Kevin trivializes the mental illness that factors into these kind of horrible events. It reduces all of the complexities of this kind of violence into “they’re just evil”. It is this attitude that has prevented truly understanding why events such as Columbine, the Virginia Tech shooting, etc took place. The American dismissal of mental illness is the problem. Americans fear the notion of seeing the shooter as an individual with a tormented mind, full of pain and confusion, because it makes them human. It helps us sleep better at night to imagine them as evil beings, boogeymen, that are soulless demons. KEVIN feeds into that viewpoint. It is a film that refuses to challenge its audience by delving into those gray areas and instead giving us an antagonist with about as much complexity as the killer in a slasher film.
    And Vern, don’t buy into Faraci’s interpretation. Of all the online film critics, he is truly the least insightful. Vern, you are a great critic, Faraci is not.

  31. >I hope it’s not too late to have him play the comic strip character Marvin .

    Ha! I thought I got my quota of (completely justified) “Marvin” hatred over at The Comics Curmudgeon!

  32. Oh, come on. It’s just adorable the way Marvin loves wallowing in his own feces.

  33. We have something along these lines going on in Norway right now. The case against Anders Behring Breivik, the worst mass murderer in history, are coming to an end. And the bastards that agree with him would just love to see him getting admitted to the psychiatric ward because it would mean that “he was born that way and there’s nothing we can do about it”. The other side just want him to be judged as the murdering fascist he has become by choice and locked away for life. Kids aren’t “born evil” as the movies want us to believe. We can actually raise them to not being murdering fascists, as most parents around the world do on a daily basis.

  34. Someone should really cast Tilda Swinton as Margaret and Jimmy in a remake of LIQUID SKY.

  35. Braden, that’s pretty much how I saw the movie too. Well put. But it’s obviously a movie that very intentionally leaves pretty much everything from the overall story to the little details (what exactly happened to the sister’s eye, etc.) vague. This means it’s completely open to interpretation, and I like my friend’s version and Devin’s version because both seem to me like legitimate ways of seeing the story that are more interesting than the way I saw it, for the reasons you stated.

    And anyway he did write an insightful and completely respectful comment about the movie that made me see it in a new way. Be nice.

  36. You’re right Vern, I apologize for my slight against Faraci and I offer my apologies to Faraci as well. Film should be something to be discussed and other viewpoints should be respected. I lost sight of that in my final sentence and that was poor form.

  37. SPOILER

    Lynn Ramsay is one of my favourite directors and Morvern Callar is in my top five, so I was very excited about seeing Ramseys third (?!)film in 15 years. While I was watching it, I was kinda disappointed about how one-note evil Kevin was. I really don`t believe that psychopaths are born evil. But towards the end of the movie, I actually began to view the mother as the real monster of the movie. She is not evil, but she does not seem to care about her son at all and can`t connect with him at any time in his life. She only tries to, when he`s a teenager, because she feels harrased and disturbed by him.

    For me, it`s a movie about a sociopathic mother and a son, who`ll do anything to be acknowledged by her. He hangs on to the only moment in his life, where she actually seemed to care for him, that night she read Robin Hood to him. And his massacre in the end, is his way of telling how much he hate her, love her and wants her affection, while getting rid of the competition (his father and sister). And the real tragedy of the story is that she only connects with him, after he has made her feel hated, alone and alienated, and he has demonstrated that he is as big a sociopath as she were while raising him.

    I don`t think the mother is the narrator of the movie per se, but we are watching Kevin as she perceives him, with cold detachement, bewilderment, horror and fear.

    I liked the movie a lot, but I think I`ll end up loving it, the more I watch it. It`s one of those movies, where the story is told through the cinematography, sound, structure and so on. It seems kinda simple on it´s first viewing (what happened to her? Oh, he her son killed a lot of teenagers), but on a second viewing it will be a totally different experience (Why did Kevin kill a lot of teenagers and why didn`t she seem able to love him?)

    In conclusion, go watch Morvern Callar and Ratchatcher. Lynn Ramsay is one of the best and most original directors alive, and she makes challenging, but profound intelligent movies, that get´s better with each viewing.

    Also, totally misleading title, it should be called Let`s talk about Kevins selfish and sociophatic Mother, cause that`s the real focus of the movie.

  38. …and Braden’s interpretation *also* works for PROBLEM CHILD.

  39. When can we expect full reviews of Problem Child 1&2 with full discussions of child development and nature vs nurture? Because that would be awesome.

    I haven’t read the book to this movie, but I wonder if it gives a better picture of whether mom was a bit of a sociopath or not.

  40. Nabroleon Dynamite

    June 9th, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I hated this movie. I expected realism, but instead received “Unrealistic White People Problems: The Movie”

    And I only paid $1.31 out the Redbox to rent this shit!!

    Acting was great all around though, and the director knows how to make some engaging visuals.

    Can’t totally hate.

  41. SPOILER

    I don`t think that mum was an actual sociopath. She was a careerminded woman who got a birth depression, refused to aknowledge that she was unfit to be a mother and emotionally abused her baby for many years. When baby Kevin turned out to be a bit of a weirdo because of her poor mummy-skills, she went into full selfdenial, believing Kevin was an evil monster right from the birth and thus further traumatizing Kevin.

    Kevin go nuts and kill a lot of people. Mum tries to understand why, by remembering all the incidents that proves her theories right; that baby Kevin was a psycho from the beginning. The movie is her stream of consciousness, and she focuses on specific details about her son in order to be able to survive. She simply cannot accept the fact that she was a horrible mother and indirectly responsible for the death of several teenagers. That`s the way mummy-brains work.

    She does, however, begin to understand that Kevin did what he did in order to be like her, so she could accept and love him. But then it`s too late.

    Anyway, that´s my understanding of the movie. I get the mother in denial-thing. I had an emotionally abusive fostermother and she cannot remember any of the stuff she did in my childhood when I confront her with it. I hated her so much when I grew up, that I several times planned to murder her in her sleep. I even once got out of bed and got a knife in the middle of the night. I still hate her with a passion, but as an adult I`m also fully aware that the hate came from a need to feel loved and accepted by her. As kids do.

    I really can`t see what that has to do with being white.

  42. Nabroleon Dynamite

    June 10th, 2012 at 5:58 am

    @dna.

    Interesting take on the film and seems to fall in line with Vern’s home boy’s “Unreliable Narrator” hypothesis.

    Your take on the movie has nothing at all to do with being white, however my take on the film was that of a white, suburban mother with a unrealistically “evil” child who NEVER gets disciplined at all!!

    Black parents would have tried whipping that kid’s monkey ass like Dolemite at least once!!

    So yeah, in my opinion “Unrealistic White People’s Problems: The Movie” would have been a more accurate title than “We Need To Talk About Kevin”.

  43. Damn, I wanted to like this movie but it’s one of the most annoying movies I’ve ever seen. The father was clueless, The mother hated her child, and the kid was a fucking brat in every way. When the Kevin scribbled all over the mother’s maps I wanted to kick his ass myself. The fathers reaction to it was one of the most clueless things I’ve ever seen in my life. Do people really act like that? Who the fuck wouldn’t teach a child some discipline after something like that? This kid had obvious anger problems and the worst part is that the adults around him were so dumb that he never got any help for them. They should have called this movie We Need To Talk About Stupid Fucking Adults. These would be the same adults who find out their kid is a huge gangster in the neighborhood only once he get’s busted with 10 keys of cocaine and ends up in jail. Oops, in hindsight we forgot to ask how he got all those new clothes and that car. We just thought he got a raise at McDonald’s.

  44. Nabroleon Dynamite

    June 18th, 2012 at 11:07 am

    ^^What he said!!

  45. This is the mother’s movie, and I think she may too reliable of a narrator-she probably cherry-picks and obsesses over the worst parts of raising Kevin. However, I think that everyone seems to be skimming over the parts of the movie that made it great. After her son did that fucked up shit to her community, her family, and her- she stands by his side. That’s why she got so much venom from the people around her, not because of what Kevin did, but because of what she did. She stood by him in court, and gave up her home and life savings to pay for a top-end criminal defense attorney, who then got Kevin a much lighter sentence than he deserved. I can understand the community’s hate of her, but can’t say how I would act in that same situation. Excellent movie.

  46. Chiming in on this discussion some time later:

    I liked the film a lot and I found it to be very comparable to TAKE SHELTER.

    You’ve got this main character with an ambiguous psychological affliction. You spend the movie trying to figure out what’s *really going on*. Mundane things seem horrifying and devastating, etc.

    But I thought this KEVIN film sort of shot itself in the foot by having it all be about what it eventually was about, instead of wrapping it up in a nice little mindfuck the way TAKE SHELTER did.

    It’s off to a strong start with Kevin being a bastard, and you cringe and shit, but dude, if you’re wondering whether Tilda is an unfit mother, considers that she parks the kid’s crib next to jet-engine-decibel jackhammer construction work and then takes him in for a hearing check being like “he might have damaged his ears from crying a lot.” She fucking hated the kid. I in know way believe the movie was saying “some kids are just born bad” by having the baby cry a lot. The fact that we have one instance of John Reilly picking Kevin up without Kevin crying bloody murder seems awfully convenient and makes me totally buy the Tilda as unreliable narrator or at least selective rememberer.

    Meanwhile, whether reliably-narrated or not, John C. Reilly is equally as hopeless a parent as she is. As a few commenters pointed out he’s completely fucking hopeless. His character and the dad in ORPHAN are pretty interchangeable, but at least the dad in ORPHAN had like a prior record to hold against his wife and shit. But yeah, major Fail on showing your kid any sort of discipline or having any sort of cohesive sense of authority with your wife there pal.

    Where it gets weird for me with the whole was-it-the-parents-fault issue was the eventual Event that Kevin perpetrates. I mean I understand the bereaved parents being grief stricken and not being able to psychologically deal with Tilda’s presence and bitch slapping her in public etc, but when you consider the non-student-body casualties of Kevin’s spree it suddenly seems really callous. Furthermore it is clearly an exaggeration of reality, because while the idea was certainly put forth in regards to, say, the parents of the Columbine shooters, there wasn’t this unified front against them where they would walk out of a courtroom like an abortionist wading through a crowd of baptists. (I mean I don’t know firsthand but certainly, say, this article http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/20/do-we-blame-the-columbine-parents/ approaches it as an ambiguous thing). So then the movie seems to be exaggerating the perspective, and therefore criticizing it? Seems off topic as far as what works about the film.

    Somebody said that people hated her because she was still associating with the kid, visiting him in jail and shit. I don’t see any evidence that they even knew this was the case.

    Anyway, once it became clear what the whole central Event of the film was I felt a bit deflated, like the movie took on a tone of (pretentious art snob voice) “It’s a piece about the school violence issue”. A more compelling movie for me would have been if she had eventually lost it and killed Kevin, and that’s why she’s ostracized and shit.

  47. Finally saw it – absolutely great filmatism, acting, music, etc. But like Vern, it sort of left a bad taste in my mouth with what it was trying to say (or lack thereof)

    Has anyone read the book? From what I heard, the mother is absolutely to blame in the book, and is so much of a villain that you end up feeling sorry for Kevin, so I wonder why they flipped that on it’s head in the movie. Kevin is ridiculously one-note, which would work in other movies but seems really out of place in such a subtle, arty movie. I personally didn’t pick up on the “unreliable narrator” stuff, but since Kevin is so one-dimensional it’s a good theory that she’s misremembering it. I mean, pretty much every single thing Kevin does in the entire movie is basically act like an asshole, and the only time he ever seems happy is towards his dad, and that’s only to rub it in the face of his mom.

    Speaking of which – I’m not going to pretend I know what’s in the mind of a mass murderer, but i’d assume more school shootings would be more about issues with other students than the parents. At least in my teen years I had rage issues with asshole students, and my parents were kind of just this afterthought. The thought of orchestrating a shooting to get back at my mom or dad seems outlandish, but then again, I’m not qualified to guess what’s in someone like that’s head. Was Kevin bullied? Did he have friends? A girlfriend? He’s good looking and dresses like a cool hipster, I’m guessing he would be pretty popular. I dunno, the movie has tons of frustrating questions like that, which might make it great or infuriating or both.

    Oh yeah – the SPOILER reveal of what happened to the rest of the family was powerful and sad but also didn’t make much sense as the cops/bomb squad would have been ALL OVER that house at the end. It’s a great scene though.

  48. Liked the review more than I liked the movie.

  49. I thought this movie was rather interesting. I thought she was a good mother since in my opinion she actually tried to be there for her son but he would not respond. I think that in the end Kevin matures and realizes that all he did was to make his mother go mad and she ended up being vulnerable rather than crazy. I just don’t understand the tomato party? Wtf was that?

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