DVD Review: We Need to Talk About Kevin

Parenthood can be scary. You hope you're doing a good job, but sometimes, you're never really sure. However, despite your best efforts, you may still end up with a complete sociopath for offspring. And it wouldn't really be your fault if the kid is just a bad seed...or would it?

We Need to Talk About Kevin is the haunting tale of Eva (Tilda Swinton), a once free spirited yuppie traveler, who decided in a fun drunken moment that maybe a child is the one thing missing from her life. She and her husband Franklin (John C. Reilly) have their first child, Kevin (Ezra Miller), but parenthood isn't quite the fulfilling adventure Eva expected. Kevin cries incessantly, won't talk, expect to say "no," has little interest in anything and doesn't start using the toilet until around age 7, only after Eva accidentally breaks his arm in a moment of frustration. And then when he's just shy of 16, Kevin does something unspeakably horrific.

In the aftermath, Eva, now an absolute outcast because of Kevin's actions, looks back on her parenting and wonders if she really is the one responsible for her monstrous son, or if there was nothing that could have prevented the tragedy. And, as it should, the film leaves it in a very gray area.

Kevin simply does not seem right from day one, but does that mean that there was always something wrong with him? If Eva had tried a little harder to bond with her difficult infant, perhaps he would have had a better chance. Maybe it wouldn't have mattered at all. And if was her fault for not being ideally nurturing, should she still be blamed for his actions? Or maybe Kevin wasn't as bad as we see him as a child, because after all, this is all from Eva's point of view. There's so much to discuss and analyze after seeing We Need to Talk About Kevin, that you could easily spout 10 different hypotheses about why Kevin did what he did, and still never come to a conclusion, because, just like when these things happen in life, there is no definitive answer on how it all went wrong. In the end it's probably a mixed bag anyway.

Not surprisingly Swinton's performance as Eva is stunning. Watching Eva's actions and reactions to Kevin are difficult, as she never seems to be able to connect with him. It could have been so easy to negatively judge her as a parent for lack of bonding or lack of discipline, but as you see Eva's desperate struggle to hang on, judging her so harshly feels wrong. Of course, helping her along is the pitch perfect Miller as Kevin, who sometimes feels too convincing. At the same time he never feels like a stock character. It could have been easy to look at the many similar incidents in the real world over the years to model Kevin after those of his same ilk, but he never does. He brings something even darker and more terrifying to an already evil person.

We Need to Talk About Kevin is quite captivating, and when it was done, I actually wanted there to be more, but due to its intense content was glad there wasn't. It does falter a few instances, especially when trying to logically play out Kevin's heinous crime, since the film lacks details on how he did it, something that's still eating away at me. Nonetheless, the heartbreaking story, the brutal mystery and a bit of reality turn this drama into an outright horror film for any parent.


  1. I surprisingly loved this movie, as well. As I said in my own review (at MILF), it was made of almost everything I tend not to like in movies. But for some reason, it just all worked for me and was immensely captivating. I've been kind of tempted to buy it, but I'm not sure how often I would really re-watch it due to its difficult nature. Ezra Miller's performance is just so intense, though, it's hard not to want to watch him.

    1. As a parent, it's a very fascinating film to watch. I was intrigued by it last year after seeing the trailer. I started reading the book, but never finished, though I'd like to someday.

      Though I knew in advance what Kevin did, it still builds the mystery well enough to have kept me captivated. However, I can't help but wonder how great it would have been to go in completely cold.

  2. This is a fantastic film because of all the grey area it leaves the audience. I think depending on your own personal views and ideas you'll come to a different conclusions about why this came to pass. I actually like how sketchy it is on the actual incident.

    I did think the soundscape was a bit too aggressive and in your face for a good portion of the film, but that's my only quibble with the film.

    1. Absolutely. The concept of nature vs nurture is very much at work here, but without being hammered into the audience's brain. That gray area could have me talking for hours.

      As for Kevin's actions, I don't feel like I necessarily needed to see in the entirety of it or be given a detailed description, but when I think about it logically, the where, when, and who make the how not add up for me, which I find bothersome. Should I finish the novel, it might possibly fill in some of the details that are plaguing my mind.


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