We Need to Talk About Kevin

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Is it wrong to despise the despicable?

We Need to Talk About Kevin is a thorough examination in what it means to give birth to and raise an absolute monster. It is a character study on the fallout of said monster’s horrific actions, and what it means to be a survivor of unspeakable tragedy.

I am sure that a lot of people would put the blame squarely on Eva’s (Tilda Swinton) shoulders, claiming that she was selfish and inattentive and cold. The truth is that she was many of those things, but not without reason. A person can only try so hard – love so much – before they reach the end of their rope. Eva came to that point before her monstrous son even reached adolescence.

A lot of people will also argue that murderers aren’t born and that they’re created. I also believe this to be false. We Need to Talk About Kevin does an excellent job at depicting a psychopath at several stages of life, and it is incredibly disturbing. How does a mother love her child who is not capable of feeling love? How is she supposed to behave when she is little more than a prisoner in her own home?

We Need to Talk About Kevin is difficult to watch because the atmosphere is so oppressive, the subject matter too real, the emotions too raw. Lynne Ramsay’s use of the color red throughout the entire film as symbolism for guilt and violence is exquisitely done. The lack of visceral violence and gore only accentuates the impact of Kevin’s brutal acts, as well as serving to punctuate this poignant comment directed at society in general:

“It’s like this: you wake and watch TV, get in your car and listen to the radio you go to your little jobs or little school, but you don’t hear about that on the 6 o’clock news, why? ‘Cause nothing is really happening, and you go home and watch some more TV and maybe it’s a fun night and you go out and watch a movie. I mean it’s got so bad that half the people on TV, inside the TV, they’re watching TV. What are these people watching, people like me?”

We sit in our chair or on our couch watching We Need to Talk About Kevin, our hearts racing imagining the vile and despicable acts that Kevin is committing off screen. But they’re not shown, and our morbid curiosity goes unsatisfied.

Perhaps there is a monster in all of us, lurking just below the surface.

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