The narrative is non-linear and fractured, continually cutting back and forth between Eva and Kevin (chillingly portrayed by three actors, as toddler, child, and especially as teenager, almost a Swinton lookalike). Their relationship is distant and ugly, but also profound. Eva hates him, but loves him too, and tries forever to bridge the gap while becoming terrified of her son's behaviour...until the end, a paroxysm of bloodshed that is more emotionally-wrecking than explicit.
The movie is really about Swinton's Eva, a woman who spends fifteen years trying to cope with an impossible life: her awful son, and her loving but clueless husband, played unusually straight by the usually quirky John C. Reilly, who is naive about his son't nature and unwilling to even consider the possibility that his wife's feelings are legitimate.
Because the narrative is non-linear, we also see (are subjected to) the community's hatred of Eva, as her son's murderous school attack make her a pariah; she avoids victims' mothers in grocery stores, is slapped on the street, has her house and car splashed with red paint: one component of the overwhelming blood imagery that soaks this movie in grief and estrangement.
A great movie: it's not a didactic, movie-of-the-week look at a teenaged killer; it doesn't go to pains to explain his behaviour. (He has considered the matter himself, but says he can't really figure it out.) The movie is about a woman whose son turns out to be a mass murderer, and so it "teaches" us nothing except about her grief and pain.
Edited by bleeding heart, 06 June 2012 - 05:11 AM.