Kevin's mother struggles to love her strange child, despite the increasingly vicious things he says and does as he grows up. But Kevin is just getting started, and his final act will be beyond anything anyone imagined.
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Eva Khatchadourian is trying to piece together her life following the "incident". Once a successful travel writer, she is forced to take whatever job comes her way, which of late is as a clerk in a travel agency. She lives a solitary life as people who know about her situation openly shun her, even to the point of violent actions toward her. She, in turn, fosters that solitary life because of the incident, the aftermath of which has turned her into a meek and scared woman. That incident involved her son Kevin Khatchadourian, who is now approaching his eighteenth birthday. Eva and Kevin have always had a troubled relationship, even when he was an infant. Whatever troubles he saw, Franklin, Eva's complacent husband, just attributed it to Kevin being a typical boy. The incident may be seen by both Kevin and Eva as his ultimate act in defiance against his mother. Written by
Twice in flashbacks to Kevin's parents in their dating days, a UPS terminal with trucks can be seen in the near background. Those trucks have the new UPS logo, where if the time-frame is correct, the trucks would have had the old logo of a stringed parcel above the UPS Shield. See more »
I used to think I knew. Now I'm not so sure.
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This is quite simply one of the best films of the year. Even the book's author, Lionel Shriver (a woman) praises the film, calling it 'a brilliant adaptation'. Being a first-time dad, the story fascinated me. What happens if you don't love your own child... and they know it?
Tilda Swinton, not normally a favourite of mine, is exceedingly good as Eva, the mum uninterested in maternity. Gravid when she least wants to be (she's career-minded), out pops Kevin, her little Damien. You know from the moment she refuses skin-to-skin things are not going to bode well.
She has no idea how to deal with a baby. Her idea of subduing him is to stand next to a pneumatic drill to drown out his relentless screaming. Kevin grows up knowing he is unloved and demonstrates this through devilish behaviour towards Eva.
Gradually Eva, if not embraces motherhood, then at least gets better at it. Perhaps this is due to her giving birth to her second child, a girl, who Kevin of course hates with a passion. Or maybe the idea of being a mum sinks in, along with the realisation that a career is not the most important thing in life.
Eva's betterments do nothing to placate Kevin: he gets worse. Eva's attempts to complain are met with ridicule by the father (John C. Reilly), who thinks she is delusional. Years of unintentional, but sometimes intentional, neglect take their toll on Kevin, and the film's tragic conclusion seems inevitable.
The origin for Kevin's behaviour has polarised audiences. Did Eva create a monster by failing to form a bond early on? Should she have sought help from professionals if she felt she wasn't coping? Or was Kevin simply a bad seed; an innately evil child who no one could have cured?
Now that I've had the chance to reflect, I think it's unfair to judge son or mother. I'd be surprised if Ramsay wanted audiences to do that. What would be the point? The film is a starkly brilliant exploration of a failed relationship and the consequences that has on a family and an entire community.
If Swinton can win an Oscar so easily for her role in 'Michael Clayton', she should be celebrating her second win now. It's one of those performances which needs months of detoxification and psychoanalysis to move on from. Her acting is matched by new-kid-on-the-block Ezra Miller, who plays her lovelorn son. He brings to his role a controlled ferocity we are not used to seeing. His portrayal works, apart from his first-class acting, because he's not the stereotype. To look at him, you would say he was handsome and ingenuous. But looks are deceptive.
It's hard for people to be repulsed by films nowadays, but there are scenes which will shock. So rare is it to see this kind of film. They vanish as quickly as they appear. I implore you to see this if you can. You'll be moved if not entertained.
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