Based on Lionel Shriver’s novel, the film tells a story of a woman who never wanted to become a mother. When Eva gives birth to Kevin, nothing changes. She performed her motherly duties without complaint, but her maternal instincts always felt unnatural. And Kevin, even at a young age, knew that. The mutual lack of love for one another ultimately lead to something more terrifying. It’s a nightmare on two different levels, and Eva is the only one that must deal with the consequences.
The back-and-forth tragic narrative is reminiscent of Blue Valentine, except there are no glimpses of hope and happiness in Kevin. It’s a sliding, messy downhill slope towards mass murder with few opportunities for redemption. Director Lynne Ramsay puts our protagonist straight in the crosshairs of the town’s parents and the audience. And we must face the controversial and possibly irrelevant question human nature asks: Who is to blame? The answer will be argued inside and outside of the theaters, but Ramsay poses the question in a masterfully emotional way.
Ultimately, the film’s success lay at the work of Swinton. Already an Oscar winner, Swinton deserves her second nomination and dare I say it, a win. Spread throughout varying timelines, Swinton actually plays several characters that neither deserve sympathy or respect from the audience. But her portrayal is so authentic and raw, soft and painful that we give it to her. At the end of the day, we’re left talking about one name: Tilda.