I had seen too many positive reviews of this film so that I was afraid going into it that it could only disappoint me. It is with great relief that after watching the film on Bluray it is every bit as good as the reviewers had said.
The story is not told linearly but as a series of short episodes gradually revealing more about a terrible crime committed by the Kevin (Ezra Miller) of the title, the teenage son of Eva Katchadourian (Tilda Swinton). This film focuses on Eva and her life coping in the aftermath of Kevin’s actions such as cleaning up the red paint splashed over her house and car by an angry neighbour or being assaulted by a grieving relative of one of Kevin’s victims for smiling for a moment.
Before Kevin was born Eva was a globe-trekking travel writer but after he’s born Eva is stuck at home with baby Kevin while her husband Franklin (John C Reilly) is out at work all day. Kevin cries constantly when Eva is alone with him but is all smiles when he’s with Franklin.
When he’s a toddler he is just nasty towards his mother but has learned to turn on the tears around Franklin so he doesn’t think there’s any need to talk what might be wrong with Kevin. The only time Kevin shows any sign of affection towards Eva is when she reads him stories about Robin Hood. When Kevin is eight they have daughter Celia who gives and receives plenty of love from Eva. When Celia loses an eye in an apparent accident Franklin doesn’t take Eva’s suspicions of teenage Kevin being responsible at all seriously.
The film looks at guilt and blame with a lot people in Eva’s town unable to talk to her because of what Kevin did. They direct their anger at her because they can’t reach Kevin and traditionally it is always the parents to blame. Eva blames herself too because she could never show Kevin that she loved him and Kevin always sensed this. She accepts their stares and dirty looks without complaint
This is a brilliant film and I can now really appreciate the tragic irony of the title. Tilda Swinton is excellent as Eva and Ezra Miller is very convincingly nasty as teenage Kevin but so too are the boys playing the younger Kevin. This is no popcorn film at all but an intelligent serious drama.