Monday, July 8, 2013

Haunted by a Movie

Have you ever seen a movie that haunted you?  I've read books that have stuck with me (I still think about the characters from "The Poisonwood Bible" more than a decade after I read it), but I've rarely had a movie do the same.

While scanning the grown-up movie selection at the library last week (the kids' movies section being completely depleted by this point in the summer), I came across one called "We Need to Talk About Kevin".  I vaguely remembered hearing that it was good and since Ryan and I both like Tilda Swinton, I grabbed it.

Oh my.

It took us a while to figure out what was going on because the scenes jump back and forth in time, but once we got the gist of the plot, we were riveted to our seats.

The plot revolves around a woman (Swinton) who, along with her oblivious husband, raises a sociopathic son.  From the earliest age, the son is devoid of feeling and is quite simply, a monster.  The mother really tries to be affectionate with him when he is younger, but grows increasingly colder toward him and eventually becomes frightened of him.  I won't give away any spoilers, but I will say that the son does something absolutely horrific and the mother spends the next few years dealing with the aftermath of what he did.

By the time it was over, Ryan and I looked at each other in disbelief.  We were left with the question of whether the mother became cold and distant because her son was sociopathic or if he became a sociopath because she was cold and distant.  The filmmakers did a great job of leaving it open-ended.

Honestly, it reminded me of a family we know.  Sydney is involved in an activity with the daughter who is a perfectly lovely girl.  She's quiet, sweet and eager to please.  Both of her brothers, however, are holy terrors.  They are overtly rude, mean-spirited and generally terrifying to be around.

I felt sorry for their parents.  And then I talked with their mother.

Now you never really know what goes on in someone else's home, but if the little snippets of conversation I've had with the mother are any indication, theirs is not a very happy one.   Even when she attempts to say something nice (a very rare occurrence), her tone is insolent and surly.  Ryan, who is a much more easy-going person than I am, can't stand to be around her.  That says a lot.

We've only known this family for a few years so I really wonder if her boys act like they do because of her attitude or if she developed the attitude because of how her boys have acted.  I guess we'll never know.

After watching the movie, however, I am kind of worried about how those boys are going to turn out.  And I really worry about their sweet sister.

I briefly toyed with the idea of anonymously mailing a copy of the movie to their house.  I won't, of course, but I wonder what would happen if the mother saw it.  Is she capable of changing her overall tone and attitude?  Would her sons' behavior change?

I just don't know.

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