Kevin's mother struggles to love her strange child, despite the increasingly dangerous things he says and does as he grows up. But Kevin is just getting started, and his final act will be be... Read allKevin's mother struggles to love her strange child, despite the increasingly dangerous 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.Kevin's mother struggles to love her strange child, despite the increasingly dangerous 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.
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.
- Oct 30, 2011