Elizabeth (spoilers!)

It looks like Chris and I are continuing are series of Why Children Ruin Everything with We Need to Talk About Kevin.

This was a movie that I knew nothing about before we watched it, except that Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller were in it. And I’m glad I didn’t know anything about it, because I’m not sure I would have gone through with it. I can handle most things in movies, murder, rape, kidnapping, etc. But there’s a few things I really can’t handle, and school shootings are at the top of the list. I saw Elephant in 10th grade when it first came out and it was a huge mistake that haunts me still. If I had known that We Need To Talk About Kevin was about school violence, I would have probably made another mistake and not seen it.

I’m usually on the fence about a non-linear storyline, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to like the way the story was told in We Need To Talk About Kevin, but it ended up being perfect. It managed to make the movie less scary without eliminating the tension. Early on in the movie, you know that some kind of tragedy happened at a school and the main character, Eva (Tilda Swinton) used to have a family that we don’t see anywhere in the present. So I didn’t spend the whole movie nervous that something was going to happen, because I knew it was. So while I wasn’t distracted by own fear, I still wanted to know what happened.

Tilda Swinton is good – real good – but in this, she’s amazing. How do you wrap your head around a character like Eva? A woman whose child murdered her husband and other child, and many others, and is despised for it. Her performance is a perfect balance of a character who cannot stop obsessing about the past but who also can’t stop herself from trying to move forward.

We Need To Talk About Kevin is one of the most beautifully and cleverly shot films I’ve seen in a long time. Once it’s clear, toward the end of the movie, that Kevin (Ezra Miller) is responsible for a mass murder at his high school, I was pretty scared on how, or if, they were going to show it. I didn’t want to see Kevin murder students. But I also wanted to know what happened. The perfect solution showed up in the film, of shots of only Kevin himself, locking up the school gym and then shooting off arrows into what we can assume is a crowd. So we see what he did without actually seeing him do it. Perfect. The reveal of the murders of Kevin’s father (John C. Reilly) and young sister (Ashley Gerasimovich) were comparatively more shocking by showing their dead bodies riddled with arrows in the family’s backyard. But these shots were beautiful: quiet, delicately lit, and lingered just long enough.

Kevin never reveals why he committed the murders, because there wasn’t a reason. He just did. It was the natural conclusion to his whole life of terrorizing his mother, murdering animals, using weapons, and causing his sister to lose her eye. The more interesting question is why he left Eva alive, the person he clearly hated most of all. Which leads to the question: Which is worse: being murdered by your son or being left alive while your son murders the rest of your family and many other people? The answer to that answers why Kevin left alive the one he hated so much.

This movie is terrifying, particularly after what happened in Newtown, but not scary in the sense that Elephant was. I was in high school when I saw that, and I was in college when the Virginia Tech murders happened, and it all scared me because of the thought of myself being in that situation. But We Need To Talk About Kevin is scary not because Kevin was behind a school massacre, but because Kevin was someone’s son.


This film was very intense and scary. I was aware that people enjoyed it but I was blown away by how much I did. I was unsure about watching this because I was nervous that it would be a chore to get through, however, it was extremely easy. The film had my attention from the get go, and even though you kind of know what the big incident is, with Kevin, you still want to see every second of this film to the very end.

Tilda Swinton, who plays Kevin’s mom, did an exceptional job in this role, although I think I’m a little bias because she’s my favorite actress right now. This film is definitely not for everyone, and I know that I would not have gotten through it if I was in high school, but I definitely enjoyed it now.



One thought on “WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN (2011)

  1. I wanted to see this when I first heard about it because I love Tilda Swinton it but knew I couldn’t handle it. I know, given recent events and being a mom, that I probably won’t ever be able to see it because I would be a crying, sobbing, mess through the whole thing.

    Also, kids don’t ruin EVERYTHING. 😉

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