Post Oscar awards, I observed that some people thought Tilda Swindon was robbed of a deserved best female award for her role in ‘We need to talk about Kevin’, so I had to see the movie for myself.
I was also curious to see what they make of the home environment of teenage murderers. In the past decade there has been a spate of gruesome murders committed by kids (In recent news, a 14 yr old Daniel Bartlam murdered his mother using a claw hammer then attempted to burn the house to cover the body and evidence??!!). Have you wondered like me what drives a child to kill despite seemingly normal home environments?
We need to talk about Kevin chronicles the childhood of a teenage ‘sociopath’ who was behind a high school massacre. It particularly looks at the relationship between the boy and his parents growing up and their lives post massacre. It is fictional and biased (we are seeing the mother's view of events) but as a good movie should, it leaves you with questions.
What role do parents play in creating or nurturing bad behavior? The eternal nature nurture debate. I don't know anymore. I want to believe in free will of a child but I also don't want to believe that a 14 yr old will rationally wish to kill nor do I want to blame parents who might have done their best in their own way.
In the book written by Lionel Shriver, the mother had suffered Post natal depression after Kevin's birth and some people attribute his lack of emotions to the maternal rejection he endured as a baby. Still based from the book, others blamed her poor maternal ability. Hmmm, I don't want to accept these reasons as they shift the blame for a child's behaviour on the mother. Moreover she went on to have a second child who was a 'normal' loving child.
Was Kevin badly behaved enough to be ‘suspect’? Hmm, One couldn’t really pin point. Those malevolent eyes of his made my skin crawl. Though I guess for the sake of the movie they might have encouraged that to exaggerate his ‘vileness’. The scenes from childhood where he refuses to talk, poos in his pants deliberately or wrecks his mom’s treasured maps, are not necessarily what a child does and you think ‘Woe is me, my son is going to be a murderer’. Rather, he was mostly a mean character who played his parents against each other by withdrawing or giving his affection.
Imagine being a mother and you never have those tender mom and child moments where your child wraps their arms around you in love, or just smiles and gurgles at you. This woman never had it and she tried. She really tried to bond with her son. Interestingly he was the opposite with his father. Not because he loved him more but to further punish his mom. So when the mom complains to the father about his behavior he thought she exaggerated.
Could the teachers have helped? The movie did not focus much on his school environment so we don’t know how he behaved there and if the teachers could have detected ‘abnormal behaviour’. I can understand why the movie makers might want to avoid that minefield especially in America. Teachers have enough on their hands without society giving them added responsibility of detecting/reporting disturbed children.
Why do Fathers teach their children dangerous sports like shooting, archery, in the name of bonding?
Could a psychologist have helped?
Are some people born sociopaths?
Should teenagers who commit heinous acts serve adult sentences?
Would I blame the mother/parents of a child who turned mass murderer? I don’t think so but I wouldn’t be drinking tea with her either.
I do believe that an unhappy home environment may foster some bad behavior but unhappy is a subjective word isn’t it?
All in all the movie was a good one. A brave one in fact that raised questions about a painful subject (I doubt if parents who lost their kids to a murdering teenager would view this movie with as much generousity).
Tilda Swindon who portrayed the weary haunted mother Eva gave a topnotch performance. In the movie she is simultaneously at the centre of the violence and at its margin: she is burdened with guilt yet can make no restitution. All that is left to her is to replay, endlessly, the story of Kevin's life and ponder her own role. Was she at fault – other than in giving birth to him? Or was Kevin's just evil? John C Reilly was also perfect in his Dad role, typical Father in the background. and Kevin dear Kevin (Ezra Miller), who reminded me of David from Omen. LOL
On the minus side, I tired of the repetitive flashbacks. The red orgy (if Eva is not scrubbing off red paint, it is tomatoes. just a lot of bloody red. Yeah its connotation to blood was initially spooky but got old fast).
Does Tilde Swindon deserve an Oscar? Hmm, I have a bias for Viola Davis, just because. But Tilda’s performance was really really good too. I guess I’ll have to watch Meryl as Thatcher before I conclude :p.