Entertaining Platt: We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

April 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

It's the performance of a lifetime for Lyle Lovett and Lyle Lovett.

The title of this movie needs to be We Should Have Talked About Kevin A Long Time Ago When We First Realized He Was the Second Coming of Damien.

Visually, it’s an interesting movie, with many creatively shot scenes and nice cinematic touches. Narratively, it’s a train wreck that seems to pile on weird on top of bent on top of warped for the sake of being shocking.

It tells the story of Eva, apparently a world-traveling adventurer, who gets saddled with a hateful bastard of a son and turns increasingly inward except for the rare occasion when she flings her kid against a wall and breaks his arm. She seems to brighten a bit when she gets a second chance with a daughter. But Kevin’s still around to wreck everything, for no other apparent reason than He’s Just Born That Bad (TM).

I can’t find much to fault in Tilda Swinton’s performance as Eva. She does an excellent job playing someone shattered by circumstances on one horrific day. Ezra Miller, who plays Kevin as a high schooler, and the toddler and pre-teen actors who played Kevin, seemed to channel Keanu Reeves by way of Stewie on Family Guy. John C. Reilly was John C. Reilly, which is to say he did a workmanlike job with the material at hand.

The problem with the movie, I think, is that it’s based on a book that probably does a much better job of explaining the background than the film does. I haven’t read the book, so all I can base my opinion on is the flick, and what I come away with are a variety of questions ranging from:

* How did Kevin manage to corral everyone into the gym without them noticing the locks he was putting on the doors?
* How was he able to shoot that many people with bow and arrow without someone – a couple of agile cheerleaders, for example – taking him down? It’s not like in Carrie, where the frenzied teen has supernatural powers at her disposal.
* Why in God’s name would you stay in a town where something that horrible happened, something for which many blame you, forcing you to face those repercussions every damned day? Maybe it says more about the viewer than the movie, but if you’re willing to take a crap job somewhere just to draw a meager paycheck, you should be willing to move ANYWHERE to do it with some peace of mind.

Perhaps the book does a great job of fleshing out these details about the circumstances. Sadly, the movie doesn’t, and it fails to leave me asking questions for the right reasons.

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