The title of this very disturbing movie, "We Need to Talk About Kevin," is about 15 years late. We, or his parents, should have been talking about Kevin at least a decade ago. It's far beyond solution now. The damage has been done and we, or his parents, are not only paying for it, but also will continue to do so for a long time.
A movie of the "Bad Seed" genre, highlighted for all time by Patty McCormack's dazzling portrayal of Rhoda Penmark, way back in 1956, Kevin is her male counterpart, perhaps even more deadly. Practically from his birth, Kevin shows virulent antipathy to his mother, an outstanding performance by Tilda Swinton. Three boys, Rock Duer, Jasper Newell and Ezra Miller are Kevin as an infant, a child and an adolescent, and all are scary. Director Lynne Ramsay has brought exceptional work from them as they quietly challenge and defeat their mother. An earlier Ramsay film, "The Lovely Bones," also showed an exceptional touch with fear and terror.
Swinton, pale, lovely and distraught, has a difficult role and delivers in splendid style. As Eva, a sophisticated, successful travel writer, she has carved out a good place in her life, but she abandons it for home and family. John C. Reilly, always with spot-on depictions, is a kind of bumbling guy who just cannot imagine that a child could cause such mental anguish.
But the infant's screams are louder than a sidewalk drill, and his expression as he defies his parents in terms of toilet training is remarkable. Anyone who has been a parent, or even dealt with younger siblings, will understand Eva's frustration, and maybe Kevin's triumph.
There are a number of loose ends and unanswered questions along the way, but Ramsay's pacing, and the outstanding contributions from composer Jonny Greenwood and cinematographer Seamus McGarvey make Kevin a compelling character and the movie a gripping experience.
We Need to Talk About Kevin opens today.