School shootings have become more prevalent over the past twenty years. When these tragedies occur, they are immediately followed by a media frenzy. Images of the school, those hurt, and the perpetrator(s) are everywhere, and the topic is unavoidable for weeks. Lately, conversations about mental illness have come up. Can a child commit mass murder and not be evil? Who is really to blame when such events occur: the child, the parents, bullies, poor mental health treatment? In We Need to Talk about Kevin, the film adaption of the novel by Lionel Shriver, we get a different perspective on this topic as it is told from the perspective of the mother of a child that commits a massacre at his school.
Eva Khatchadourian (Tilda Swinton) was once a free-spirited woman who wanted nothing more than to travel the world with her husband, Franklin (John C. Reilly). The unexpected pregnancy that resulted in Kevin left her feeling out of place and resentful of her new family. Eva struggles to love and care for Kevin who seems to do everything possible to torment his mother. By the estimated age of six, Kevin is still in diapers. He purposefully destroys the things his mother loves, but turns into an angel when his father returns home. Eva is unsure of her emotional stability. If everyone says that Kevin is a great kid, then there must be something wrong with her–or so she thinks. In Kevin’s (Ezra Miller) teenage years his behavior worsens until the final climatic scenes.
The plot moves back and forth through time, making it difficult to arrange the sequence of events. This process, I believe, is to show how Eva’s mind relives moments; how a police siren can bring her back to the tragedy or how eating eggs with broken shells transports her back to her son’s nail biting habit. Eva, remains in the town of the tragedy and faces unemployment, poverty, and social scorn for what Kevin has done. Her car and home are defaced and she is attacked in the street, making it clear the town blames Eva for Kevin’s actions. Without giving the rest of the movie away, I’ll just say that Kevin’s vacant stare will haunt you hours after you finish the movie, but the emotional ending might flip your feelings of disgust into an odd sense of sympathy.