We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) [REVIEW]


Despite the critical acclaim of this movie, I didn’t understand why a comedy about John C. Reilly helping a fat kid at school deal with bullies. Then I realized that this movie was not at all the other movie with a person’s name as the title that came out in 2011 called “Terri“. I also recently saw an article talking about the poster design of this film and ways that it is reminiscent of Rosemary’s Baby, which got me interested. Some might even say it piqued my interest, if you’re the type of person who enjoys using words with the letter “Q” in them. I still had no idea whether or not this movie was any sort of horror or thriller or anything like that, because everyone kind of knew it was about the character “Kevin” needing a talking to because he was going to take part in some sort of school shooting or something. Why couldn’t you have taken time out of your schedule to talk to Terri AND Kevin, John C. Reilly?!


Talk about Kevin? How about we talk about that tomato soup!

Eva (Tilda Swinton) wakes up from a dream/memory of being in one of those giant tomato fights that happen in places where people don’t speak English. When she wakes up, she sees her car covered in red paint, as well as her house. You know what? I’m giving up on describing things in the order they happen in the movie because the movie was constantly jumping around to different timelines and this will be easier. Eva and Franklin (John C. Reilly) have a child together named, believe it or not, Kevin. Given their professions, it ends up being Eva who spends most of her time at home with Kevin while Franklin is typically away. The child seems unresponsive, dismissive of any attention or stimulus, as well as confrontational. He’s a little cocksucker and Franklin thinks Eva is just making it up. Doctors say that there’s nothing wrong with him and people think Eva is just kind of exaggerating. The older he gets, the more extreme the dual personalities become, being a great son when Franklin is around and being a shithead around Eva. As a toddler, Kevin intentionally shits his diapers every time he gets changed, as well as ruins Eva’s belongings, and as he gets older he graduates to creating computer viruses and feeding his sister drain cleaner, which results in her having her eye removed. What an asshole!


And then Will Ferrell busted in and did some of his patented funny yelling!

The douchebaggery climaxes with Kevin taking his bow and arrow to his school, takes a shitload of Prozac, and starts locking people in and shooting them. While jumping back and forth between timelines, we also see Eva having to deal with the community’s reaction to these events, including strangers walking up to her and slapping her and having her groceries fucked with. All the while we can’t help but wonder where Franklin and the daughter are in all of this, as most of the film focused on the relationship between Kevin and Eva, including her visiting him in prison. Towards the end of the film we learn that both Franklin and Kevin’s sister were killed by Kevin before he had gone to the school. We also learn that since he took a shitload of Prozac and wasn’t even 16 when he did those things, he was only going to be in prison for a few more years. The film ends with Eva painting a room for Kevin in her new home and getting all of his clothes ready for when he is eventually released. I think it was symbolic of her forgiving him for everything? Or something? Who fucking knows.


The original title was actually “We Need to Talk About Kevin…..’s Problem of Buying Small Clothes”.

I don’t say this too often about films, but I didn’t really understand the point of it. Granted, it was based on a novel, so its possible there are a lot of rewarding elements of the book, but I didn’t really feel much with the film. Both Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller, who played the older Kevin, were quite good, but I still didn’t really feel anything in regards to the story. I think the points they were trying to make were about how Eva was ambivalent to the idea of motherhood from the beginning and how that could have played a part in why Kevin grew up this way, and that there can be closure at the end because she finally accepted him for all his flaws. The problem with this is that I thought she did a relatively decent job of dealing with a shitty kid and only really let her frustrations show when she shoved him once and he broke his arm. I figured that if she was having such a hard time dealing with the community after what Kevin did, she could have, I don’t know, FUCKING MOVED SOMEWHERE ELSE. I think it would have been a little bit easier to summarize the movie by saying “Tilda Swinton is from another planet and is stuck with a shitty kid who grows up to be a shitty teenager but she hugs him anyway”. It got a little tense in a few moments when you knew Kevin was about to go bonkers and get all Green Arrow on everyone, but those moments seemed to be intentionally underplayed as to not make it some gore-fest.


I’m certainly no DNA scientist, but how does Tilda Swinton + John C. Reilly = this?

When it comes to school shooting movies, the only one I could say I “liked” was Gus Van Sant’s Elephant. To say I liked the movie might not necessarily be the appropriate word. Elephant had only been released a few years after the Columbine Massacre and even though it wasn’t based on that, it was certainly the event that it was repeatedly compared to.  I felt as though Elephant had humanized these two kids who weren’t the monsters that everyone had portrayed them to be, and tried to show that these two kids had some fucked up experiences that caused them to focus their efforts on a terrible, violent event. Maybe had they grown up differently or worn different clothes or had different hair, maybe there could have been enough small changes in their lives that they could have handled things in a more productive way, but clearly fell down a slippery slope of anger and hate. This film, however, didn’t really seem to address room for error in a child’s upbringing. Kevin was such a piece of shit even as a toddler, that even though Eva tried to do her best, her best wasn’t good enough. Maybe the point was that if Eva had shown such devotion to Kevin early in his life that she had shown towards the end of it, things would have been different, but I feel it missed that mark. Although I didn’t really enjoy this film, I did think there were two good performances in it, so it wasn’t a complete waste of my time. Oh yeah, and you kind of see John C. Reilly’s butt! IN A SEX SCENE!


Wolfman Moon Scale


2 responses to “We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) [REVIEW]

  1. two things: is that tight-shirted teenager played by tilda swinton? looks like it.
    did they establish that the kid had the bow-and-arrown chops to go into a school and mow people down? seems a clunky instrument of mass murder if you ask me. what’s that? you didn’t? well, i stand corrected. or at least given your choice in that hypothetical A/B scenario.

    • They established a long history of archery proficiency, believe it or not. Maybe you should read between the lines and see that I was clearly implying that with every sentence I wrote!

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