Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 37
  2. Negative: 5 out of 37
  1. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Jan 25, 2012
    As a portrait of a deteriorating state of mind, We Need to Talk About Kevin is a masterful film.
  2. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Dec 8, 2011
    It's a domestic horror story that literally gets to us where we live, a disturbing tale told with uncompromising emotionality and great skill by filmmaker Lynne Ramsay.
  3. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Dec 6, 2011
    The movie toggles between two periods-before and after a catastrophe-and, were it not for Swinton's magnetism, it would be unbearable. Instead, you'll want to stay for the wallop.
  4. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Mar 22, 2012
    Watching it isn't easy, but it is definitely worth having waited for.
  5. Reviewed by: Mary Pols
    Dec 8, 2011
    Ramsey's film has its own strengths. We Need To Talk About Kevin doesn't just bring you to the outskirts of a parent's worst nightmare; this fever dream of guilt and loss takes you straight inside.
  6. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Nov 29, 2011
    There are so many great things happening on almost every level of this movie, from Swinton's haunting, magnetic and tremendously vulnerable performance, which is absolutely free of condescension to the suburban American wife-ness of her character, to the many unsettling individual moments.
  7. Reviewed by: Leslie Felperin
    Nov 29, 2011
    An exquisitely realized adaptation of Lionel Shriver's bestselling novel. In a rigorously subtle performance as a woman coping with the horrific damage wrought by her psychopathic son, Tilda Swinton anchors the dialogue-light film with an expressiveness that matches her star turn in "I Am Love."
  8. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Mar 9, 2012
    Refusing to hold our hands, director Lynne Ramsay ("Morvern Callar") pushes far beyond the boundaries of topical drama into the realm of the surreal.
  9. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Jan 13, 2012
    Acting doesn't get much better than the subtly brilliant display put on by Tilda Swinton in We Need to Talk About Kevin.
  10. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Dec 8, 2011
    A meditation on the pain suffered by a mother when her child turns out to be a monster, We Need to Talk about Kevin is the perfect tonic for holiday cheer.
  11. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Jan 11, 2012
    In its best sequences, Ramsay puts her duress in dazzlingly visual terms, collapsing the past and present in an associative rush of red-streaked images and piercingly vivid moments out of time.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 110 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 34
  2. Negative: 4 out of 34
  1. Jan 21, 2012
    Less a "Bad Seed" rehash than an indictment of contemporary parenting skills, "Kevin" made my skin crawl on many levels. The outer need for perfection while the interior is crumbling, the idea that because a couple CAN have a child, they should, the unwillingness to actually TALK about Kevin... all of this leads to the creation of monster--but that creation is inevitable. Far smarter than most will give this film for, see it and watch it carefully. Until the final, horrific moments, is Kevin the monster, or are his parents? Who created whom? This is a chilling film guaranteed to haunt, and Swinton's performance is perfection. Understated and genuine, she is genius. Full Review »
  2. Mar 3, 2013
    A movie where the horror has a purpose to expose the extent of a mother's love. The style is top-notch and the substance is unique. Did I learn anything from it? Well, if I didn't know already, it'd show me an example of how mothers can forgive everything and always love their child, and that it's one of the true graces in life. Full Review »
  3. Jun 1, 2012
    I found this film kind of a mess. Arty in its silences and temporal jumps, artless in its sledgehammer symbolism (an alternate title could be "We Need to Talk About Kevin's Intake of Food That Looks Like Blood and Body Parts"), the film asks much of viewers but doesn't reward our patience. Anyone who can't predict exactly what will happen--including the weapon and a rough body count--is in the next theater viewing a different movie; I kept watching because some of these "oops, wrong theater" folk wrote reviews in major papers, reviews promising a big surprise. Oh well. But yes, the acting is wonderful, and the nature/nurture question genuinely fascinating. With a stronger script and fewer pretensions, this film could have been truly compelling. Full Review »