Jump to content

We Need to Talk About Kevin


This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.

18 replies to this topic

#1

TWoP Dietrich

TWoP Dietrich

    Fanatic

  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Seattle

Posted Jan 27, 2012 @ 6:39 PM

Tilda Swinton!

#2

ethanvahlere

ethanvahlere

    Stalker

  • Location:Brooklyn, NY
  • Interests:Movies, books, music, apple juice (which I drink the way the Gilmores drink coffee), Veronica Mars, The Wire, Big Love, Pushing Daisies.

Posted Jan 27, 2012 @ 11:59 PM

I think I'm in the minority here, but I wasn't crazy about this movie. I do think Tilda Swinton is as good as usual, and by cutting out the first-person narration and using images to illustrate point of view (such as the great scene where Swinton pauses in front of a construction site, where drilling is being done, to drown out the sound of the baby crying), director Lynne Ramsay is able to cut out the self-satisfied tone I found so irritating about Lionel Shriver's novel (who acted as if she and she alone had just discovered ambiguity, and also seemed so proud of being - much as I hate the corollary of this term - politically incorrect). However, the movie falls into the trap of a lot of movies about an "evil" kid; you wonder how everyone else missed how creepy he really was, especially since, in my opinion, Ezra Miller and the actor who played Kevin at a younger age were one-note in their performance. Also, John C. Reilly needs to stop playing genial if clueless guys, as he's really repeating himself in his performances.

#3

Millamant

Millamant

    Couch Potato

Posted Jan 29, 2012 @ 6:12 PM

I am with you on that. The first half was pretty cool, because of Swinton and the unusual impressionist approach, but the more we see Kevin, the more tired and obvious the film becomes. By the end, it's almost at Omen or Bad Seed levels of hokeyness.

I researched the book afterward because I couldn't believe the author would write the character as evil, full stop, but it sounds like that's what she did. Not to suggest that kids who commit crimes like this deserve our empathy, or are "just misunderstood," or anything like that, but I don't think evil comes out of nowhere except in horror movies. I guess that's the premise, and you just have to accept it; the point is how Swinton's character handles it. (I hate the facile irony of her introducing him to his weapon during one of the few good times they had together. That's such a stale literary conceit, and doesn't work even on the page, I'd guess.)

While watching, I didn't find Ezra Miller that convincing. But then I saw a movie where he was a nice, normal high schooler, and I kept expecting him to whip out the bow and arrows, so I guess this performance did make an impression.

I hated how passive and clueless John C. Reilly and the daughter were (not that the daughter could do anything, but she passively accepted Kevin's sociopathic judgments). It didn't feel like a real family to me, but maybe I've just never been in a family where one strong-willed kid dominates everybody, as opposed to everyone giving as good as they get. It gave you a queasy feeling, like watching lambs go to the slaughter, which I suppose is how Eva feels. (But then why didn't she do anything?)

ETA: John C. Reilly got into the dark side of his stock nice-guy character in Carnage. Not the greatest movie, but it was nice to see him stretch after this.

Edited by Millamant, Jan 29, 2012 @ 6:15 PM.


#4

furrylump

furrylump

    Fanatic

  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Australia

Posted Jan 30, 2012 @ 6:21 AM

See, I figured that what we saw in the flashbacks was distorted by Eva's viewpoint - she always had somewhat of a grudge against Kevin for making her give up her life, she was pissed off that he was a difficult child, she was annoyed that her husband always sided with him and judged her, so she blew all of those things out of proportion in her head, and we're seeing them that way because they were her memories. And how much was accurate and how much was just her was difficult to tell, although I would think that all the major, more factual things in the flashbacks surely happened (e.g. Kevin really did cover her map room with paint) but the smaller, less definitive things (like Kevin's exact behaviour during a scene - or you know, his attitude when he was doing something wrong) could've changed, which could've made a lot of his actions seem a lot more calculated than they actually were, for example.

However, if I wasn't taking that specific interpretation, I wouldn't have liked so much because it makes absolutely no sense that babies and toddlers would be able to put on and maintain a fake personality for one of their parents, and yeah, Kevin would be a really flat character. I guess he was anyway, but there was a good reason for it - although my main problem with the movie is still that they apparently cut out some things that would've fleshed him out a lot more. Like I read that in the book, Eva speculates that while he was putting on this fake nice personality for his father, he was also angry that his dad couldn't see through it, and that he loved fake Kevin, not real Kevin. Just stuff like that, that wouldn't make him seem like a better person or anything, but would just make him seem more human, instead of Micheal Myers. I don't think his scene at the end was quite earned without stuff like that.

Another problem was the Drano thing. It wasn't very well put together, I don't think - until the conversation at the dinner table, I wasn't really sure what was actually going on - and my friends and I couldn't really figure out what had actually happened. Like, if Kevin had forced Drano into her eye, she would've been much more scared of him after, right? But the book actually speculated that she got something in her eye, he told her he was going to clean it out with the Drano, then pretended the whole thing was an accident, and I guess either she covered it up herself, or he asked her to and she complied. IDK, could other people who hadn't read the book figure that out? Maybe I was just being thick, but it was really distracting trying to work out what had happened with the Drano.

Looooooved the directing though. Especially that opening shot, of the tomato mush crowd.

#5

Millamant

Millamant

    Couch Potato

Posted Feb 5, 2012 @ 8:11 PM

Maybe I was just being thick, but it was really distracting trying to work out what had happened with the Drano.


Same here. I figured Kevin killed the hamster (guinea pig?) and hurt his sister's eye because he was eee-vil, but it was very vague. Same with another plot point: Eva publishes her own travel books. We see a poster of her in a store, but IIRC, this was never mentioned; we know her as a lowly worker in a travel agency, not an author.

I like the idea that the flashbacks are entirely her version of events, which would certainly make Kevin's characterization seem less silly, but I wish the director had tipped us off somehow. Sure, the whole film is impressionistic and subjective, but since we never see any viewpoint but Eva's, there's no reason to doubt the narrative we're given. This might be the kind of thing that is easier to pull off in a novel than in a film... since the film's perspective is "third person," and we see Eva from outside, we don't think of her as the unreliable narrator. Maybe it takes a voiceover to suggest that, or a found-footage format.

#6

BDArizona

BDArizona

    Fanatic

  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Tucson, AZ
  • Interests:Left wing politics, sci-fi, sports, competitive reality shows

Posted Feb 7, 2012 @ 12:24 AM

I like the idea that the flashbacks are entirely her version of events, which would certainly make Kevin's characterization seem less silly, but I wish the director had tipped us off somehow.

My feeling is that, if it takes that much guess-work and supposition ("fan-wanking," if you will) on the part of the audience, it's a poorly made film. Not that I haven't done the same with other movies, but it doesn't really improve the quality. It just improves my ability to enjoy (or not hate) the movie.

#7

Spartan Girl

Spartan Girl

    Fanatic

Posted May 18, 2012 @ 12:46 PM

Saw this on demand today because I had to see for myself what it was like.

It was one of those movies where I couldn't pick whether I loved or hated it. I think it tried too hard to be artistic, but I think the central questions of whether some kids are born bad or is it just bad parenting and what you owe your children were pretty compelling. And I think Tilda Swinton did a great job in her part.

God, that part where she walked in on Kevin masterbating and he kept going while glaring at her challengingly was so disturbing.

But I did like the part where one of Kevin's surviving victims came up to Eva to see how she was doing. It was a kind gesture that she clearly needed. However, I kind of don't blame the parents of the dead kids for hating her. Even though Eva was just as much of a victim as everyone else, I'm sure it would be hard to feel sympathy for the mother of the boy that killed your child, especially when she continued to stand by him even though he killed HER family too.

#8

Empress1

Empress1

    Stalker

  • Gender:Female

Posted May 20, 2012 @ 1:46 PM

I missed the movie in theaters and was bummed because I thought Tilda Swinton was perfectly cast. Just watched it On Demand. I absolutely loved the book; I thought it was the best one I'd read all year (I read it last year). It addresses a very simple but very terrifying question: What if you don't love your kid? You're taking a huge gamble when you have kids because you have no idea how they'll turn out and how you'll adjust to parenthood. It's not socially acceptable at all to talk about wishing you'd never had kids, even if your kids are difficult (and I am certain there are many, many parents walking around, even ones who are outwardly good parents, who wish they hadn't had kids), so I really appreciated this book for highlighting that.

However, the movie falls into the trap of a lot of movies about an "evil" kid; you wonder how everyone else missed how creepy he really was

This was a complaint about Mildred Pierce that I agreed with - it's so clear that Veda is evil that you're just like, come on, Mildred, wake the fuck up. I felt the same way about Kevin, although it was clear that he reserved his vitriol for Eva. He was very Eddie Haskell with his dad. His dad was SO obtuse, though, that it made me kind of embarrassed for him.

When I read the book, I thought Kevin was just capital-b Bad; I firmly believe that sociopathy can and does occur in kids. And I thought and still think Kevin is one. I did wonder how much of his behavior was because they let him get away with it. Like Kevin wearing diapers until he was six (I'm pretty sure kindergartens don't take kids who aren't potty-trained, unless they're special-needs). Teenage Kevin actually pointed this out and called them stupid for it. And when young Kevin told his mother he "didn't give a rat's ass," I was thinking "He's lucky my mom isn't his mom."

the hamster (guinea pig?)

In the book it's a shrew.

Like I read that in the book, Eva speculates that while he was putting on this fake nice personality for his father, he was also angry that his dad couldn't see through it, and that he loved fake Kevin, not real Kevin.

On the day of the shooting, he drops his "golly gee, Dad, that's swell" persona with his father - I can't remember what it's about, but Kevin lashes out with a whole rant about not caring about his dad's stupid photography, etc. - I think that's the only time his dad saw the "real Kevin." Well, that and right before Kevin killed him, I guess.

#9

ribboninthesky1

ribboninthesky1

    Fanatic

  • Gender:Female

Posted May 20, 2012 @ 3:26 PM

It addresses a very simple but very terrifying question: What if you don't love your kid? You're taking a huge gamble when you have kids because you have no idea how they'll turn out and how you'll adjust to parenthood. It's not socially acceptable at all to talk about wishing you'd never had kids, even if your kids are difficult (and I am certain there are many, many parents walking around, even ones who are outwardly good parents, who wish they hadn't had kids), so I really appreciated this book for highlighting that.

This has piqued my interest in the book, since you're right - it is totally taboo to discuss it, and I find it fascinating. Dang it, Empress1 - yet another book to add to my ever-growing list!

#10

SlovakPrincess

SlovakPrincess

    Fanatic

Posted May 20, 2012 @ 8:31 PM

This movie was well-done, but damn was it depressing and uncomfortable to watch. Did Tilda Swinton just go home and drink every night while filming this movie - I would have.

But I did like the part where one of Kevin's surviving victims came up to Eva to see how she was doing. It was a kind gesture that she clearly needed.

I loved that kid - he was a rare, bright moment in the movie.

#11

ilovebooks

ilovebooks

    Channel Surfer

Posted May 21, 2012 @ 8:36 AM

I was very disappointed with this movie after having read the book. I didn't love the book either though as I found the mother to be very unlikable and the dad to be frustratingly clueless. But I really did not like this movie. I feel like if I hadn't read the book I wouldn't really have a good idea of all the truly disturbing behaviors and the different relationship he had with his dad. And I found it frustrating as well that the mother didn't speak up more about her concerns and that the fact he wasn't toilet trained until 6 wasn't a huge red flag for them or the kid's pediatrician. I don't think the movie fleshed out the characters or the relationships enough and I agree with a PP that they just didn't seem like a real family. I work in a school for kids with emotional disorders and I just found this movie very unrealistic in that his behaviors would have gone unchecked for such a long time.

#12

Princess Aldrea

Princess Aldrea

    Stalker

  • Gender:Female

Posted May 21, 2012 @ 11:51 AM

It addresses a very simple but very terrifying question: What if you don't love your kid? You're taking a huge gamble when you have kids because you have no idea how they'll turn out and how you'll adjust to parenthood.

According to this movie, it will either be okay because he was a murderous psycho anyway or your lack of love will turn him into a murderous psycho. It just doesn't seem like a very realistic take on the problem.

#13

Batman Beatles

Batman Beatles

    Fanatic

Posted Jan 11, 2013 @ 4:10 PM

I work in a school for kids with emotional disorders and I just found this movie very unrealistic in that his behaviors would have gone unchecked for such a long time.

I was especially baffled by the pediatrician who didn't see anything wrong with a 6 year old child not speaking or using the toilet.

One scene that stuck with me is when Kevin was a baby and his mother's clumsy attempts to interact with him. Some women just aren't good with babies.

#14

PartlyCloudy

PartlyCloudy

    Video Archivist

Posted Jan 14, 2013 @ 11:25 PM

I just watched this movie and found it to be fairly heavy handed and kind of boring. Although that lychee fruit sure looked good.

#15

Batman Beatles

Batman Beatles

    Fanatic

Posted Jan 15, 2013 @ 10:02 AM

I've had the song "Everyday" stuck in my head for a while.

#16

CrumbyButtons

CrumbyButtons

    Stalker

  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Minneapolis
  • Interests:Gardening

Posted Jan 18, 2013 @ 11:53 PM

I just watched this movie and found it to be fairly heavy handed

I kept thinking "this movie is brought to you by the color red". When Tilda was trying to avoid someone at the grocery store, and ended up in front of a display of tomato soup - I was totally rolling my eyes.

I had a boyfriend who was an expert bow hunter, so I had a lot of trouble believing a mass killing could be done with a bow and arrow. To kill one deer with a bow and arrow takes time - you have to consider distance and gravity. An arrow isn't a bullet. Loading and drawing a bow isn't pulling a trigger. The idea that the rugby team couldn't rush him was ridiculous. Did they just line up and stand real still for him? Maybe I need to read the book.

I wanted to like it, but just couldn't.

#17

furrylump

furrylump

    Fanatic

  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Australia

Posted Jan 19, 2013 @ 1:26 AM

The book explains how he did it, which was fairly complicated.
-He already did archery as an individual study form of Phis Ed and brought his own equipment frequently, so he was able to bring a bow and several dozen arrows to school without it looking suspicious.
-He'd stolen school stationary and forged letters inviting all his intended victims (which was about ten - there was also a cafeteria worker who was just in there by chance, using the basketball hoop) to the gym to plan some ceremony for exceptional students.
-He'd bought the toughest locks he could find to trap them inside. And only in the big gym room itself, with the bleachers locked away, so they'd have nowhere to run or hide.
-Once they'd arrived and he'd shut them in, he went up to this little balcony which looked out over the gym, so they couldn't rush him.
-The gym building was a separate structure to most of the school, so it took a while for someone to hear the screaming, go to investigate, and realise something was wrong. Also, some people who heard it may have mistaken it for the noise of a rally or something like that, I can't remember.

It was a few hours from the time he started shooting to the time the alarm was raised, special forces arrived, and were eventually able to break through. He actually ran out of arrows long before they arrived, and most of his victims just bled to death. The two survivors were a boy who hid in a corner under a shelter made of thin mats and other victims' bodies, and a boy who passed out after being shot in both thighs. Eva reckoned Kevin thought he was already dead and just didn't bother with him anymore.

From what I recall of the scene in the movie (I read the book later on) they were following this scenario, but without the detail of the book it was very confusing. I couldn't understand why no one had rushed him while he was reloading either, and my friend wanted to know how he was able to lock them in from the outside, since he needed to be inside himself to shoot them.

Anyway, after reading the book, I'm somewhat baffled they did the movie, at least the way they did. It was a very faithful adaptation, especially regarding the flashbacks, which is kinda the problem. A pretty large chunk of the book is just Eva's speculation, which was mostly on her own family members' inner workings. Largely Kevin's, but also her's, Franklin's, Celia's, and even her mother's and in-laws'. So the book basically revolves around the protagonist's inner monologue, but in a movie, unless they wanted a holy fuckload of narration or many scenes of her talking to a therapist (or someone along those lines) they couldn't get that inner monologue out, so they just did the flashbacks and left them uncommented on. But all those incidents throughout Kevin's childhood lost so much of their meaning, because Eva wasn't able to dissect them. So I don't understand why they still put such heavy focus on them.

ETA: You're welcome, CrumbyButtons.

Edited by furrylump, Jan 19, 2013 @ 2:39 PM.


#18

CrumbyButtons

CrumbyButtons

    Stalker

  • Gender:Female
  • Location:Minneapolis
  • Interests:Gardening

Posted Jan 19, 2013 @ 12:56 PM

Thanks for taking the time to explain so well, furrylump, that helps! I still don't care for the movie, but at least I get it now!

Edited by CrumbyButtons, Jan 19, 2013 @ 12:57 PM.


#19

Batman Beatles

Batman Beatles

    Fanatic

Posted Jan 19, 2013 @ 5:44 PM

my friend wanted to know how he was able to lock them in from the outside, since he needed to be inside himself to shoot them.

That really bugged me.

I kept thinking "this movie is brought to you by the color red".


I know, right? It got ridiculous at times. I kept having flashbacks of The Sixth Sense.