Film Review of Lynne Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin

A rare and uncomfortable film (based on a novel), We Need To Talk About Kevin addresses many psychological tiffs. Besides the more conspicuous ‘nature versus nurture’ debate. The film takes you down a different kind of rabbit hole, quite bizarre, gritty, and disturbing. And that’s the Oedipus Complex. The mother-son bond that depravedly relates to incest or “Oedipal love.” But in this film, that love, affection, maybe even lust reverts to hate, hostility, and provocation.

You see the self-assertive and withdrawn mother, Eva, navigate a difficult and acutely-visceral son, Kevin. The story is binary, constantly perplexed and overwhelmed by the mother’s and son’s lives. Around them, the husband, Franklin, and their second daughter, Celia, exist as shadows… perhaps of their psyche. It’s because of films like these that I don’t read about a film, the plot, reviews, etc. before watching it. The suspense and anticipation of every next second, the acting, dialogue, character development, setting, and highlights feel authentic and unavoidable as in real life.

The film goes to extremes and can be too much to take in. Period. It faces something much more sincere than motherhood and parenting. A human is fragile and unconscious, especially during childhood, and exempt but privy to such acute mental and psychophysical conditioning. It’s insane how knowing and perceiving are two exclusive faculties. The film highlights this while exemplifying antisocial behavior as confused – in the clutch of subjective and objective realities.

The tomatoes, the color red, the desensitizing glares, the hollow shelves and furniture, the toilet training, diapers, the hair. We Need To Talk About Kevin refers to a conversation that comprises of such visual details. Exhibiting a distressing, remissive, and damnable state of mind. The kind that most people don’t think about or even imagine but it’s there as if hereditary.