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Review: Suffer the Little Darling (We Need to Talk About Kevin)

"Snail. Scary knot of desires. Hungry snarl. Small son. Why do I have to love you? How have you won?" - Anna Stevenson

Eva (Tilda Swinton) and Franklin (John C. Reilly) started out happily enough, free spirits wandering around in the rain. No cares and no worries about tomorrow. When Eva finds herself pregnant she has to give up her career and settle out in the suburbs. This is a woman who spends a majority of her pregnancy trying to find the rewind button. If a child can sense it's not wanted, then Kevin had a headstart on hating his mother.

Kevin, portrayed through the years, isn't always a monster. He begins as petulant toddler that soils himself on command, transitions to a savant of emotional blackmail and emerges from his cocoon as the sociopath played by Ezra Miller. If he manages to get parts after his turn as Kevin, I will be shocked. Few characters inspire as much hatred as this son of a well-to-do family.

That Kevin starts to look like Eva makes his acts all the more cruel, there is no fortuitous chance of having swapped children in the hospital. He is her son. She is responsible.

No one else seems to see what causes Eva panics. Kevin is quite affectionate to his well-intentioned, but clueless father. Accidents occurring around their youngest daughter, Celia, are unavoidable, not calculated. Franklin means well, but his actions have consequences in the latter part of Kevin.

Lynne Ramsay's We Need to Talk About Kevin is a reversal of expectations, for a majority of women child birth is a joyous occasion. It is the day you are welcoming your child into your life. Instead, Kevin is referred to as an enemy. A brute whose condescending remarks cuts like a knife. The bond between mother and infant that is normally present is not offered here.

In utilizing the first-person narrative Ramsay confines the audience to only what Eva knows and experiences. Her pain is felt. The blood-red tones that bathe Eva during her most guilt-ridden are an indictment, a crusade launched against herself. The trials of a mother who did what she could.

Tilda Swinton delivers what will be etched into memory as her finest role. A chameleon for a majority of her career, this is the performance that will be played on Oscar reels. It is a triumph in a film that focuses on a women too often jarred by loss.

***1/2 out of ****

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