"It's funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen."

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

We Need to Talk About Kevin

I read the book a few years ago.  I reacted very differently to the movie, so I highly recommend reading the book first.  It's a quick read - a series of letters a woman writes to her husband after their son massacres students at the local high school.  She goes right back to the beginning, to when he was first born, to try to figure out what went wrong.  She suspects he was always just not quite right.  The book reminded me a lot of Doris Lessing's The Fifth Child.  When I read We Need to Talk about Kevin, I entirely sympathized with the mother of this monster.  We knew so many more details of what she went through.  I felt her pain, and I cried for her.  Buckets.

The movie has less of a bias, if you can call it that.  Film can show the give and take and the mother's reactions more - stone cold expressions greeting a new baby.  And it makes you wonder which comes first, and if it really matters.  A colicky baby can try anyone's patience.  If mum can't enjoy the baby and connect with it, is it doomed to spend its life looking for the creepiest possible way to get mum's attention?  Or did the creepiness come first, the pathological lack of empathy, which was merely brought to the fore because of mum's bitterness.  She's rather be in France than feeding the baby.  Her head and heart are elsewhere in those formative years.  She's not comfortable as a mum.   I didn't feel for her as much in the movie, so I didn't react as much to all that befalls her.  It was a dry-eyed viewing.

So where does the responsibility lie for the atrocities committed?  I tend to lean towards the one who did the actual killing.  Many people have crappy moms and don't take down the student council.  There's something about him that makes him feel nothing for these people - no mirror neurons perhaps.  The neighbours blame the mom fiercely and shamelessly, and I don't understand why she doesn't move a few miles away from the madding crowd.

Can mothers be blamed for not connecting with their kids?  Kids are wily, and moms who fake affection are soon found out, so that's not a real option.   What else is there to do?  If we don't click, we can hang out together, and play together, but it's more of a chore than a delight.  And that comes through loud and clear no matter how much we try to hide it.  We can hope affection develops over the years, but it might not be the case.  It's a bit of a conundrum, especially since we put all our weight on the mom.  The dad in both the book and movie are oblivious to reality - he refuses to believe how bad it is, constantly making excuses for his son's behaviour instead of supporting his wife.  He plays a part in the dynamic but in a passive way so none of it is his fault.

That's a bugger.

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