Kids being evil are a rarity in the movies, unless it is a slasher cartoon melee with very little relevance. We Need To Talk About Kevin is an exception, a brutal, tragic, gut-wrenching exception. It is a story about death, but not in a literal sense, more in the sense of the death of innocence, the death of joy at being a parent and…Yes, there is a literal sense too.
Tilda Swinton is, once again, stunning as Eva, a writer who becomes a mother and is presented with a child that seems to give her nothing but distain, whilst giving nothing but love to his father, who doubts this unruly version of the kid exists. The title of the film works double shift as mostly it is these two who should be talking, as Kevin grows older, closer to his father and further from his mother, they are less a loving couple and more a machine that Kevin uses for his own twisted devices.
There are plenty of excellent performances here, Swinton is the queen of course, but also Jasper Newell as the young Kevin is exceptional, to the point where you want to reach into the screen and slap him and then feel bad about feeling that way, just as his on screen father fails to see his faults, as you would in that position. John C. Reilly stars as the dad, it is strange seeing him in jet black drama but he is excellent and whilst you sometimes scream “Naivety!” at the screen, you also understand that what you don’t see cannot be imagined, especially when it is as nasty as Kevin’s young spite.
And so to the other king of the show, an actor that might have been deleted in 2022 due to fvcking shameful behaviour (Art vs Artist definitely is an argument I stand by in this case), but here is nothing but electrifying, Ezra Miller as the teenage Kevin is a revelation. Quiet and sneering, buying items off the internet that will tragically come into play later in the reveal, practising his archery, practising his shot…Chilling and brilliant.
This is a film you need to see a few times to fully understand the subtleties, both in the story, the acting and the direction and I hope one day we get a full 4K deluxe edition, as if any film deserves numerous commentaries, it is this. As it is, there is an Artificial Eye edition which I cannot recommend enough. Just don’t buy it for your pregnant friend…