Resisting Motherhood In ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’

It’s almost unfortunate that We Need to Talk About Kevin, both Lionel Shriver’s novel and the upcoming movie adaptation of it, are about a teenage spree killer, because even though it’s brilliantly written and originally structured, a serial killer origin story that names bad parenting as a root cause is ultimately a bit of a cliche:


But the idea that someone just wouldn’t like being a mother, or more specifically, would dislike one of her own children, is one of the more impermissible emotions out there. There’s less plot arc in simmering resentment, loathing, and mutual discomfort than there is in murder, but I’m glad that someone’s bringing prestige to bear in exploring the topic no matter how melodramatic the framing. We Need to Talk About Kevin is a drastic corrective to the saccharineness of our romantic comedies, but it’s a useful and forceful assertion that not everyone has the same happily ever after.