Saturday, February 11, 2012

We Need To Talk About Kevin

Are some people simply born with sociopathic tendencies?

Lynne Ramsay's adaptation of the 2003 novel of the same name is one of the most disturbing films you'll ever get a chance to see.

To put it bluntly, don't watch it if you feel you're already losing hope about the state of humanity, or if you are more than a touch puzzled by the ongoing normalisation of nastiness across all levels of society (the pathetic sociopaths behind Unilad being the latest recruits).

And that's because, pouring fresh blood (literally) in the century-long debate about nature vs nurture, We Need To Talk About Kevin is a frighteningly poignant depiction of what happens when somebody is born completely devoid of empathy and humanity.

For all the protestations that it's the environment that shapes you, that unloving or dysfunctional parents are bound to have an impact, that good education improves your chances of smoothing out deranged tendencies, and so on -and all of the above most certainly counts - some people are just born evil.

And this evil little shit, Kevin, Tilda Swinton's creepy son in one of the most compelling films that came out in 2011, is testament to that.

Yet, even more disturbing than the movie itself are some of the comments accompanying the review on IMDb.

According to some, the fact that Kevin's birth was unplanned, or that Tilda Swinton's character didn't insist on seeking medical help earlier on, or that she was a bit cold and disdainful, are all supposed to be the crucial factors behind this younger and more manipulative version of Patrick Bateman turning into a serial killer.

Except that, if you follow that line of thought, then you'll be able to justify the most heinous of crimes. Especially given that probably less than 0.01% of the world's population has the privilege of a perfect ubpringing (and what is "the perfect upbringing" anyway).

Most kids don't get enough cuddles and some get too many. Some people may have absent fathers or messed-up mothers, some the other way round, some both and some neither.

Yet, thankfully, the greatest majority of us don't live an existence solely aimed at being horrible to other people without harbouring even a shred of empathy at the most basic human level.

All of which proves what an amazingly stimulating film We Need To Talk About Kevin is. The subject-matter may explore the darkest realms of the human psyche, but a combination of fantastic acting (Swinton could easily have been nominated for an Oscar) and genius plot structure will most certainly leave you still thinking about it for days.

Which, ultimately, is always the sign of a good film.


Jackart said...

The book was brilliant. Will readers be dissapointed?

claude said...

I don't think so...If you manage to sit through the first 15 mins or so which are a little bit too arty and "psychedelic". Past that, it really is brilliant.