We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011) ****

We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011) is a challenging film about the complex relationship between an initially reluctant mom and her deeply disturbed son, and the terrible acts of violence that he perpetrates. I can't think of another film that I've seen that takes this type of divisive subject matter and focuses on a parent's perspective rather than the child's and/or the details (and in some cases exploitation) of a tragedy.

In non-linear fashion, we see Tilda Swinton (in a perfectly detached but powerful performance) as Eva before, during and after both her pregnancy and the horrible events that her son—played at three different ages by three different actors, though primarily (and brilliantly) by Ezra Miller as the teenage Kevin—commits.

At times, Eva seems to be disinterested and overwhelmed by being a mom but her love for Kevin remains steadfast, even when she doesn't "like" him, even when she makes questionable parenting choices (and huge mistakes), and even in the aftermath of Kevin's wrath. We're made to sympathize with her though, as Kevin repeatedly and constantly acts like a true shit, seemingly deriving pleasure from his mother's frustration with his atrocious behavior.

John C. Reilly competently plays the clueless dad, a staple of 80s comedies and here turned on its head. Lynne Ramsay directs with just the right combination of flair and simplicity, and in a manner that sparks questions about motherhood, community, condemnation, and the nature of evil, without providing any answers, leaving the audience to contemplate and make their own judgments.