We need to talk about Kevin (2011): just because evil

The film We need to talk about Kevin (2011) is an example of evil for its own sake, without any justification.

Man is a wolf to man.

Hobbes

For Hobbes, the 17th century English philosopher, this means that human beings are evil by nature. Rousseau, the French philosopher, a century later, argued that the state of nature is populated by good savages. Therefore, that human beings are good and empathetic. These two opposing positions do no more than attempt to answer one of the great questions of philosophy: are human beings born evil or do they become evil? Freud took a less extreme view, stating that human nature contains the power or faculty to be both good and evil. And it is then that we incorporate the environment in which the individual develops as a fundamental piece to solve one of the great unknowns of the human being. Like so many other issues that affect human beings, this great philosophical question has been portrayed many times in the cinema.

Tenemos que hablar de Kevin

Critique: We need to talk about Kevin

We Need to Talk About Kevin, directed by Lynne Ramsay and premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, is a brilliant cinematic exercise. Stifling and perverse, the film, adapted from the novel of the same name written by Lionel Shriver and published in 2003, tells the story of Kevin and his relationship with his immediate environment, his parents and his sister. Kevin is bad, very bad. And we may never know why. Apparently raised in a non-violent environment, with a good education, a good economic level and parents who give him all their attention. Yet Kevin possesses an obvious evilness almost from the time he is a baby. In We Need to Talk About Kevin, Ramsay masterfully portrays the confrontation between a mother (Tilda Swinton) and a son (Ezra Miller) who does nothing but gratuitously sow evil wherever he goes

We Need to Talk About Kevin > Film Review

WeNeed to Talk About Kevin is not for everyone’s stomach. It can be chaotic at first, as it is not set up in chronological order. Initially, the film shows us a series of apparently unconnected memories that the protagonist tries to organise in her mind. The mind of a mother devastated by a supposed tragedy of which the viewer will not be aware until the end of the film.

Visually beautiful, with music and colour that exudes magnetism in every frame, the film is a wonderful, stark drama that will be interpreted by many viewers as true horror. Horror because the story it tells could be real, because it could happen to any parent. Perhaps the most intense terror that human beings can experience. Believing in evil for its own sake, without justification or reason, in the pleasure of harming others and taking away their lives, their dreams, their everything. In short, to believe that the essence of human nature is not in our hands. To believe that Hobbes was perhaps right

Tenemos que hablar de Kevin

The great dilemma: parental guilt

The film also raises the question of the guilt that parents may have or feel when raising a child like this one. Is it possible to detect and prevent the harm that such a child can cause? Can parents be blinded by the love they feel for their children? To what extent can they be judged or blamed?

Most of us can put ourselves in the shoes of the parents of a victim, but what about the parents of the perpetrator, how do they feel about society’s rejection of them? Love and hate are separated by a thin line. The protagonist suspects her son’s wickedness. In fact, she seems to be the only one truly aware of the child’s abnormality. She verbalises it, senses perhaps something the viewer saw coming, but feels guilty. Maybe she is not doing well as a mother, maybe it is her fault that her son is like this. The film is an excellent critique of the ideal concept of motherhood.


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