Brian’s Review – “We Need to Talk about Kevin”

The strained relationship between a mother and her teenage son turns tragic when the boy engineers a massacre at his high school, and the mother is forced to ask how much blame she deserves for the heartbreaking event.

Brian – 4 out of 10

Note: This review is loaded with spoilers: Read at your own risk!

I’ll preface this review by saying that Tilda Swinton is absolutely outstanding in it. Her emotions are always bubbling under the surface and she rarely is brought to tears. I always think that’s a more difficult emotion to show on the screen: restrained grief. Her acting is the only reason that this film isn’t a 2 or lower because the script is such a god damn mess filled with so many implausibilities that by the end I was numb to Kevin’s hate towards every species on planet earth.

The main conflict that this film hangs its hat on is the relationship between Kevin and his mother. There’s a particularly effective scene where he’s a newborn and his cry is so piercing that she literally stands in the middle of a street listening to a jackhammer because it’s a more pleasing sound. Right from the beginning of his life, Kevin is a soulless child. He won’t return a ball that’s thrown to him, he shits himself while giving a dirty look at his mother because he knows it pisses her off, and he destroys any private space she might have in the home because he just feels like it. He’s so repulsive, angry, and destructive that the audience is never given an opportunity to understand him. He’s pure rage and anger through and through. So, when he decides to go on a Columbine-like killing spree, there is no suspense or surprise.

Without any sense of personality beyond being a complete asshole that puts Damien in “The Omen” to shame, the viewer is left feeling sorry for his mother and little else. Wouldn’t it have been more interesting if the character had more dimension to him? I would have found it interesting if he tried to do good or cared for certain people but the nagging pull of anger tore him away. Kevin is remorseless, angry, bitter, and homicidal. After we get past the 2D image of Kevin’s character, there’s almost nothing left to keep our interest. The plot progression is so unrealistic and filled with bad decisions.

For example, Kevin’s killing spree takes place when he locks the students in a gymnasium and shoots them with a bow and arrow. Really? A bow and arrow? It looks just as ridiculous as it sounds too. We see his dead classmates being carted out by paramedics with arrows sticking out of them. Then we see flashback slow motion of him taking arrows out of his quiver, aiming, and firing. I really shouldn’t be laughing my ass off at a scene that’s supposed to be disturbing. After he goes Robin Hood on his classmates, he goes to prison where he’s met by his mother on a regular basis where they never speak to each other. So, I’m supposed to believe that after her son has murdered her husband and daughter, a huge chunk of his school, hated her his entire life, and left her ostracized to the point of being a pariah in her own town that she’s still going up to see him in prison for some mother-son time ending with a hug? Maternal love is strong but not that strong.

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