Since its debut at Cannes in May of 2011, there's been immeasurable buzz swirling around We Need to Talk About Kevin, largely due to the stellar performance of its lead Tilda Swinton but in equal measure on account of its topic, school massacres.
With enormous anticipation, expectations were brutally tough to meet and made infinitely more difficult with a ridiculously over-the-top story featuring caricatures of characters.
Adapted from the best-selling book, We Need to Talk About Kevin is the tale of a mother tagged with a doozy of a last name, Eva Khatchadourian, (the spellbinding Swinton) and her dealings with a son that's a fusion of Damien from The Omen and Rosemary's Baby. The kid screams incessantly as an infant, is emotionless and uncommunicative as a toddler and straight up malevolent as an adolescent.
The "Kevin" character could pass for a mini-Michael Myers minus the butcher knife but exchanged for a bow and arrow.
While Mrs. Khatchadourian is quite aware of the issue at hand, Mr. Khatchadourian (John C. Reilly) displays a lack of spine whatsoever, allowing the little terror to turn into a massive one. That's not to say the Mrs. isn't culpable, she acquiesces to little Kevin more often than she chooses to hurl him to the ground, which makes empathizing with her character a near impossibility. Even if that's not the movie's overall intended aim.
Whether it's on director Lynne Ramsay or author Lionel Shriver, nearly everything about We Need to Talk About Kevin rings false aside from Swinton's performance. It's as if one of the most troubling issues of our time were fed through a script machine and spit out a mere glancing blow.
There's an infinitely more impactful movie to be made that deals with the same subject but doesn't take things to an unrealistic extreme. A son that's not the very spawn of the devil is a solid place to start.