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What would you do if you had a sociopath for a son? That’s the question that Eva, played by Tilda Swinton, and husband Franklin, played by John C. Reilly, must face in the film “We Need to Talk About Kevin.” The film is playing at the Crest Theatre until April 5.
Most people I’ve encountered who ask me about the movie assume that it’s a comedy because of funny-man John C. Reilly, to which I reply with a vehement, “No. No, this is not a comedy.”
“Kevin” is in actuality an account of the disjointed, dark unraveling story of a disjointed, dark and unraveled child who grows into a fully fledged monster by 16.
The most disturbing part and what makes Kevin unlike the youths of the typical scary movie is the fact that there is no supernatural, demonic or horrifying incident that created this monster.
He comes from a loving home with hard-working parents. Their only major mistake, and what gives the film irony, is that in their seemingly happy home in which Franklin is oblivious to the evil nature in his son, they never do talk about the harsh darkness that buds and blooms there.
The story is told in a series of flashbacks mixed in with the present as Eva must deal with everyday agonies that are constant reminders of her past.
Just when the viewers start to feel as if they know what is happening in a scene, for example, Eva outside her place of work at a disheveled travel agency, the audience is thrown through a loop as an elderly woman comes up and slaps her across the face.
Eva takes it in stride as if it is well-deserved. This type of behavior continues throughout the film, and the audience is left wondering what horror she committed to deserve such retaliation.
The quick scene changes in combination with the time jumps create an aura of mystery as the audience waits to see how all the pieces fit together.
The audience watches Eva, baggy-eyed and strained-speaking in a baby voice to her frowning, dark-eyed son saying, “Mommy was happy before Kevin came,” after the screaming child refuses to comply with even the simplest requests and accommodations.
The temperamental 3-year-old grows into a malicious child who, despite his obvious intelligence, continues to allow his mother to change his feces-ridden diapers until he is about 8 years old. He hides this purposeful malice with a smiling mask to everyone except his mother.
As the movie goes on, an increasing feeling of dread rises as the audience sees more and more scenes of how well Eva and Franklin lived in their “very own castle,” mansion of a home and then the comparatively disheveled woman who lives alone and must, day in and day out, deal with looks and subtle cruel grievances from her neighbors and coworkers, including a slew of red paint always thrown on her front porch and car.
Eva never complains, and when religious affiliates come knocking on her door and ask if she knows where she will be spending the afterlife, she replies saying that she knows she will be going straight to hell.
Slowly it is revealed that Eva is visiting her son in prison on her days off and the mother and son sit in virtual silence with no contact, except during Kevin’s disturbing monologues, the most noteworthy of which he talks about how people spend their lives watching people like him on television.
“Do you think they’d be watching me if all I did was get an A in geometry?” Kevin also makes note that he believes the most honest thing his mother ever did was throw him against the wall of their home.
Kevin’s haunting lines along with the powerful symbols of slews of red across Eva’s days and the subtle hints that Kevin sees himself in his mother make for an intense ride that leaves everyone in the audience with mixed emotions and stances on ideas of right and wrong behavior.
While the family may have never actually talked about Kevin, I believe that anyone who sees this film will be talking about Kevin long after they leave the theater.