“We Need to Talk
About Kevin” Does
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
When you walk into the lobby of the Tropic Cinema, one of the first things you see, over there on the left, near the entrance to the Peggy Dow auditorium, is a large, spectacular black-and-white photograph of actress Tilda Swinton. It’s on loan from patron Jean Carper, who has entertained Tilda as her Key West houseguest more than once.
This week Tilda Swinton’s image also will be on a movie poster outside, for her new film “We Need to Talk About Kevin” is playing at the Tropic.
Here is a story about a kid named Kevin who commits a school massacre. Think: Columbine or Westside Middle School or Virginia Tech.
But it’s seen from his mother’s point of view as she tries to come to terms with what her son has done.
Tilda Swinton stars as Eva, a once-successful travel writer who now works in a travel agency in a mall near the prison where her son is incarcerated. Ezra Miller is cast as the eponymous, darkly off-the-rails Kevin. And John C. Reilly takes on the role of Franklin Katchadourian, the dad who has refused to acknowledge his son’s problems.
Unlike those mothers who are anchored to their children by love and affection, Eva is quietly enraged by her son actions. This monstrous offspring is out to destroy everything around him.
As Tilda explains, “The movie explored a taboo subject: the idea of a less than perfect mother. I knew that, when an audience watched the film, there would be a gag reflex at some point. But I was fascinated by the subject – it scared me, and that interested me.”
Tilda herself is the mother of 13-year-old twins. “When I had my children, my manager asked me what project I wanted to work on next. I said, “Something Greek, perhaps ‘Medea.’” Nobody quite understood what I meant.”
“We Need to Talk About Kevin” is based on a 2003 book by Lionel Shriver. But when the producers were trying to finance the film, they would reference “Rosemary’s Baby.” “It’s every pregnant woman’s nightmare to give birth to the devil,” explains Tilda. “And every mother worries that she won’t connect to her children.”
Here, the mother is revolted because she sees herself in her son. “In ‘Kevin,’ the woman I play is in mourning for her past life, and yet she looks at this dark, nihilistic kid and knows exactly where he comes from,” says the London-born actress.
Oddly enough, she describes the film as a “love story.” “They understand each other. He doesn’t kill her, and in one version of the movie, she asks him, ‘Why didn’t you shoot me, too?’ He says, ‘If you’re putting on a show, you don’t shoot the audience.’”
The audience at the Tropic will fare safely too.