the baggy trousered misanthropist

missives issued from the lair

Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller & director Lynne Ramsey arrive at the Cannes premiere of ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’ in May. Probably about to be as replete with awards as they are cheekbones.

You know that Kevin is bad, right? We don’t live in the kind of society that spends a great deal of time waffling on about well behaved kids and their achievements in charity work. And people have been going on about Kevin for ages now.

He must be really, really bad.

Turns out that Kev (Ezra Miller) could give the combined progeny of Osama Bin Laden, Jeffrey Dahmer and Robert Thorn a run for their money. He’s manipulative, he’s brutal, he’s cold and he is inexplicably intent on ruining the life of his mother, played by Tilda ‘oh yeah, the Oscar would be in the bag if it wasn’t for that damn Streep woman‘ Swinton.

Don’t be under any illusion that the narrative belongs to him, though. This story belongs to Eva (Swinton), who watches over her son’s rapidly developing antipathy towards her with a mixture of confusion and fear. It’s true she didn’t want him (she’s a writer whose motherly instincts were smothered by career aspirations long before we got involved) but a bad decision on a drunken night with her soon-to-be husband Franklin has repercussions that seem a little harsh, even for Hollywood.

Fairness and certainty don’t exist here. It’s not fair that Kevin was born to a Mom who wanted something else for herself. It’s not fair that Kevin behaves like a little shit in Eva’s presence and an angel in front of his Dad, to the point where Franklin (played by John C.Reilly) thinks his wife needs help and considers divorcing her. Life isn’t fair is the message – you take the hand you are dealt and you work with it, regardless of how appalling and agonising and ultimately pointless it might be.

I won’t spoil the pay off – suffice to say that there is no happy ending and no explanation as to why Kevin played his cards the way he did. Driven by a certainty of purpose throughout the movie, when he is asked that very question in the final scene we see him bewildered and helpless for the first time. He used to know, he says. But now he doesn’t.

You might think that’s really bad in light of what he’s done. If you do, the point of the film is rather lost, I think.

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