Day 19: We Need to Talk About Kevin
Writer: Lynne Ramsay (screenplay), Lionel Shriver (novel)
Director: Lynne Ramsay
Year released: 2011
I already knew the premise of this film before going into it. I have not read Lionel Shriver’s novel, but when it was released in 2003 it caused a lot of good noise, including winning several awards. For those of you unaware of the book or movie it’s really difficult to discuss either without delving into what it’s about, so spoiler alert: the novel and movie are about a fictional school massacre and both are told from the mother’s perspective.
Overview: A mother knows that there is something wrong with her son, he is cold, combative and angry, and as he grows up his behavior only intensifies until it culminates in horror.
I don’t want to write 5 trivia points about this movie as I have done for the others. That just doesn’t feel right here. Instead I just want to write about how the film made me feel.
I was lucky in that when I was a teenager mass shootings in schools was unheard of. While I did grow up, and still live, in inner city Chicago our fears were very different back then; perhaps getting beat up by a bully or something like that. Otherwise, guns were not things we feared, because guns were just not brought into educational institutions. The images of teenagers rushing out of Columbine High School in 1999 when two of their classmates began their shooting rampage are seared into my memory. Since then mass shootings have too often been part of our discussion, because since Columbine mass shootings have occurred in schools, movie theaters, military bases, shopping malls…
Now, while watching this movie the anxiety was turned up high. The film is not told linearly. Instead, it’s up to the viewer to piece together why Eva lives alone, why Eva was slapped by a woman who passed her on the sidewalk, why Eva’s home has been spray painted red, why Eva, who was once a high powered career woman, is thankful to be given a low-level job at a store front travel agency. We eventually meet Kevin and we see how he is cruel from a young age.
We Need to Talk About Kevin is not a supernatural horror movie, it’s also not a slasher horror film. It’s the gut-wrenching telling of what happens to those whom horrible things happened to. Perhaps this movie hit me hard because I’m now the mother of a son and I wonder if I were an Eva would I react differently if I found my son acting violently from a young age? Perhaps the film also hit me hard because I remember watching those breaking news images of those teenagers rushing out of Columbine High School, a place they once thought was safe, with their arms held high. Something changed that day, and I don’t know what it is, but what’s certain is horrible things similar to Columbine have continued to happen, and I wonder how many Eva’s are out there and how many more there will be.