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Generally favorable reviews- based on 116 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 8 out of 116

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  1. Sep 1, 2014
    Despite difficult subject matter, the film is able to evoke tremendous emotion and feature one of the best performances of Tilda Swinton's career. We Need to Talk About Kevin is timeless in the dark world in which we live in. A must see!
  2. Jan 26, 2014
    We Need to Talk About Kevin is a compelling drama horror. When I say horror, I really do mean horror. This film was unsettling in the extreme. But the nastiness is offset by great direction, tight performances and an inscrutable psychological study that offers no easy enlightenment (and sometimes frustration). But as the titular Kevin aptly observes at one point; "There is no point. That is the point." Expand
  3. Mar 4, 2013
    An eerie and eventually horrifying look at the devastating effect of a broken parent-child relationship. Like Tilda Swinton's performance, this film is subtly impressive until the climatic ending brings about the realisation of just how brilliant it was.
  4. 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.
  5. Feb 11, 2013
    Not much coverage surrounding this film, it had very convincing performances and a plot that would curl the greasiest of hairs, excellent and thought-provoking film, but downright disturbing.
    Adapted from the 2003 book of the same name,Tilda Swinton puts in an Oscar worthy as mother Eva, who basically centres the film as we see a movie that is not of a linear nature, this help maintain
    the suspense and confusion as to what exactly her adolescent son Kevin had done.
    Swinton's character is, in all regards, a wreck, her reluctance at taking an interest without showing fake signs of over-bearing clearly outline her regret at having children. She finds it difficult to communicate emotionally with Kevin, he often rebelled as a child, toilet training, etc. John C.Reilly puts in a more serious performance from what we are used to as Evas husband, Franklin, who continuously makes excuses for Kevin's behaviour, a particular scene involving a young Kevin attempting to blackmail his mother with the scar of broken arm that she caused, clarifies the troubles that the family face.
    WNTTAK deals with the lasting effect of what having children may do to one's mental status, not necessarily the barbaric events in the conclusion of this excellent thriller, but a look at how a typical family can malfunction due to no steady relationship being present.
    The performances are eerily spot on in this film, Ezra Miller is psychopathic and maniacal as Kevin, often coming across as a misunderstood individual, when the 'accidents' that occur throughout the film are brought to light, his sickly ushers at his mother but his puppy dog eyes to his father are particularly brilliant.
    Reilly's character of the dad who doesn't see any wrong in Kevin, is sometimes infuriating, which is exactly what this film sets out to do.
    But it is the performance of Swinton in particular that needs praised, she truly owns the screen each time she appears, her paranoid glances at her teenage son and her often blank expression in real time as the story is told from her flashbacks of family life.
    Taking different time-frames worked brilliantly for this film, often the case of Eva reminiscing about her days before motherhood. Her constant fears about Kevin will no doubt keep you engrossed as to whether her concerns are indeed reality.
    Gripping, disturbing, but certainly unmissable
  6. Nov 22, 2012
    We Need to Talk About Kevin is maddeningly brilliant film. It's a great blend of style and substance thanks to Lynne Ramsay, who directs the hell out of this movie. A mother's recap of the events leading up to her son's high school massacre was very well executed on so many different levels. On one level; Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller did great work in their respective roles as mother (Eva) and son (Kevin). On another; the wildly structured, horror inspired screenplay and film editing were quite interesting. And on a final level, the subtle yet detailed sound mix placed the viewers right in the movie. This was simply a very good film. Expand
  7. Aug 18, 2012
    Why do people do what they do? What makes people what they are? This film doesn't give an answer (nor does any other film) but it does give you a glimpse which makes this bleak film rather intriguing. The problem is that the Kevin character is one annoying sh*t (intentionaly so) which also makes watching this film a bit annoying but it ads to the creepy and uneasy feel this film has. It gives the impression it's building up to something (it does in a way) but at the end it still feels like there has to be something more, like something's missing that would make this good movie an instant classic... Expand
  8. Aug 6, 2012
    I bought this movie, which i wouldn't recommend to anyone, though it has it's bright point. It is very well made; it gets under your skin at times, in good and bad ways; tilda swinton was excellent, as usual, and kevin was a good actor; but this was not an overall realized enough movie to make it worth watching and I highly doubt my dvd will have a good resell value either. I am uncertain while this got such high marks. And I usually agree with the marks on this wonderful site. Expand
  9. Jul 9, 2012
    Lynne Ramsay is an up and coming director with a ton of talent. She captures We Need to Talk About Kevin so naturally that it doesn
  10. Jul 7, 2012
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Brilliant, disturbing, evocative. The performance by Swinton is amazing but nothing compared to Miller and especially Jasper Newell. The kid just conveys malice with every scene and the one scene where he's actually nice is the most tense because you expect something bad to happen. I'm not sure she created the monster but it's apparent to me she was complicit in developing it. Perfect performances all around. Miller (Afterschool) is a great talent and he manages to pull off being at once amazingly cute and friendly while you know there's something really frightening in there that only Swinton can see. There's at least one scene in this featuring Newell that will give you nightmares because it's just too realistic how this precocious kid uses his intelligence to manipulate. Can debate reality of the 'school shooting' but it's pretty much immaterial because it would've happened in some way or other. Super visually, acted to perfection, and will leave you with lots more questions than answers, one of the best films I've seen. Expand
  11. Jun 24, 2012
    In We need to Talk About Kevin, Tilda Swinton delivers the best performance of her long career by portraying emotions nothing but unconventional. Swinton lent her image to a startled character, abandoned, lost by society and also, completely devoid of any influence on her son. Early on you can see Kevin is not a sweet innocent child. With an optimistic father sire, Kevin's bad behavior culminates in a brutal act. With grotesque expressions, Ezra Miller deserves much praise for a such remorseless act. From the direction till the soundtrack, We need to Talk About Kevin is a technically impeccable motion picture. It provides a unique experience for the viewer, provoking your imagination with a story of pure cruelty, however, close to current reality. Expand
  12. Jun 16, 2012
    The movie had a lot of the color red in it. I wonder if there is a message there... No, seriously, the film is just what I like: great actors, great characters--especially great villains--and an absorbing story. It's tough and unflinching. One message is important: despite conventional wisdom, parents don't have that much control over how kids turn out. Having a child is rolling the dice--she could be a poet, she could be a fool. Expand
  13. Jun 8, 2012
    For those of you who read the book - it's a good take on the story as it doesn't follow the same structure, but obviously the ending is more or less the same. The main actors are all very good indeed, and it is bleak and disturbing . You might not like some of the characters etc, and I have seen people moaning on here, but compared to most movies this one has real impact and power. And it seems the meddling execs who tend to mess up most movies are pretty much absent. Expand
  14. 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. Expand
  15. May 15, 2012
    This is one of the most disturbing films I think I've seen. Tilda Swinton tells the entire story through simple expression. There confusion, pain and loss and her face is etched with those emotions throughout the film. There isn't a performance from the four leads that isn't right on target. The cutting from Swinton's loneliness into the life that led up to the incident is a little confusing in the beginning but once your realize that something is terribly wrong here it works. The script is tight and doesn't tell all or attemtp to throw you off it just leads you throughout the story. One of the best films of 2011 and definitely the best performance by an actress. John C. Reilly once again proves he is one of the best character actors working today. Ramsay does a great job and even though it's difficult to watch this is one of those films where instead of saying "why the hell are they going in the basement" you allow Ramsay to open the door and push you through. Expand
  16. Apr 10, 2012
    The film was so far from reality. I know it's not supposed to be based on reality, but there wasn't anything realistic about this film. The man who played their son Kevin did not look like his parents in the film, along with the sister. The directing seemed very amateur. I'm not sure why two talented people like John C. Reilly and Tilda Swinton would ever agree to be in this film... This movie lacked so much excitement and was too predictable to enjoy. Expand
  17. Apr 8, 2012
    I just couldn't quite pull it off. "Kevin" was a film that did many things very right, but did enough things completely wrong to ruin it for me. Its hard to describe the disappointing aspects of the film, because so many of them are tied up with the expectations created by the really well done parts. The visual storytelling starts out strong, enabling viewers to get to know characters and plot elements on an emotional level with out everything being spelled out to the letter. The problem is the film begins to deal with absolutes, and the visual storytelling begins to fail. There are beautifully shot, almost abstract segments in the film which instead of hinting at larger elements of characters and plot, are often used to brush over key elements of relationships (the mother and father in particular) and diluting character development in the process. Kevin's character is portrayed as an absolute evil, and overall a very one dimensional, similarly with the father, who is completely clueless throughout the film. There is a subtlety that is wants so badly to be the core of the film but is consistently failing throughout through the hands of barefaced writing/directing. Tilda Swinton fights hard to keep her character interesting, but the other actors, especially those that played Kevin didn't stand a chance.

    Honestly, I can only Imagine that there were people working on this film who all had vastly different ideas of how it should turn out, and in the end it feels like the directing is what sunk the ship.
  18. Apr 8, 2012
    Tilda Swinton stars as a mother who's tortured by the pained relationship with her son, who's downright evil. From infancy until he commits a horrible crime as a teenager, she tries to break through, only to meet with cruelty and rejection. The film jumps freely from the aftermath of the attack to the growing pains (literally) of raising him. Of course, it's pretty apparent what's in store, so watching the effects of his malevolence and how she copes forms the fulcrum of the film. While Swinton and Ezra Miller (as the son) give compelling performances, the film's ominous overcast and convoluted structure give it a heavy coating that's just excessive. Expand
  19. Apr 1, 2012
    An outstanding film albeit dark, disturbing and uncomfortable to watch. Enjoying this film is tough and unlikely - but being moved by it is undoubted. It flits back and forth along a timeline which extends over years but really encapsulates the emotions (mostly that of hatred and despair) on display. Whilst at first it is difficult to comprehend exactly what is what, the film quickly begins to tie up the loose ends and places you directly in the centre of a maternal nightmare. Tilda Swinton is captivating in her performance whilst young Ezra Miller is haunting. Uncomfortable but essential viewing. Expand
  20. Mar 24, 2012
    An almost full room audience in the Febiofest for Lynne Ramsayâ
  21. Mar 21, 2012
    One of my favourite films of 2011, a powerful psychlogical thriller with remarkable performances all around not only from the usual suspect Tilda Swindon who has consistently been great but even more from Ezra Miller who will tie your stomach in a knot and deliver a performance that will haunt you for a long long time.
  22. Mar 9, 2012
    There were, for me, 2 key features of this film that define it. Firstly, the focus on the psychological impact of trying to bring up Kevin and then of the consequences of her actions as a mother are an intelligent way of approaching this story. Complex emotions including guilt, horror, despair but also love are superbly brought out by Lynne Ramsay and Tilda Swinton. This is the power of the film. The child actors and Ezra Miller are excellent. The second key feature is the weakness of John C. Reilly's role: I like him as an actor, but this role is weak and out of kilter with the subtlety of the rest of the film in that he ignores obvious signs of Kevin's behaviour and its impact. A film of this quality demands that his role be more nuanced and show more signs of confusion/worry/disturbance at the way his family is developing. Overall the film is highly watchable and carried by a fine director and lead female actor - and you'll be thinking about it for some time to come. Expand
  23. Mar 5, 2012
    I can say with certainty that it is one of the best movies I've seen in my life, intrigue, that emotion, that torment movie that grabs you in finding out the paranoia of a Tilda Swinton gives an enviable and majestic interpretation. the only thing uncomfortable for me was the music, so else was perfect.
  24. Feb 17, 2012
    A powerful film that takes you inside the life of it's protaganist. The film build's intrigue through the sharp direction and the unbelievable performance by Tilda Swinton. Kevin delivers on multiple levels. The story is intriguing and suspenseful. The film also delivers symbolism that is very fitting for the film and makes a good movie into a great one.
  25. Feb 1, 2012
    We Need to Talk About Kevin should have been titled why didn't we talk about Kevin and make a godo film. The dad is a totally clueless, complete idiot, mom is frozen in indecision and their son is a genuine psychopath. As to why one of them didn't recognize the million signals that their little boy was deranged and needed serious psychiatric help is beyond me, but then we wouldn't have this movie, which is so excruciating in its faux artiness. Shame because it could have actually been a fascinating film. And for those wondering why Tilda wasn't nominated, she was drowned by this mess. Expand
  26. Jan 25, 2012
    It's a very good movie, but has some disappointing solutions to make it excellent. Unfortunately, too predictable, but definitely worth watching. I'm glad I did. And the fact that it still makes me think of it is a good recommendation.
  27. Jan 24, 2012
    We Need to Talk About Kevin made myself speechless when the credits rolled. It was an absolutely a groundbreaking film and while watching throughout the whole film, I felt the actual depression of a mother thanks to the excellent performance by Tilda Swinton. We Need to Talk About Kevin is a film people should be talking about when I pass them. Right after the film was done, it was official. Kevin was one of the most unpleasant person I've seen on screen. Expand
  28. 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. Expand
  29. Jan 20, 2012
    Tilda Swinton is breathlessly astounding. Contrary to what happens to other movies (like Drive), the silences and the artistic pieces suits the story pretty well. Unsettling and disturbing, I had a nightmare that my son had killed me poisoning my lunch.
  30. Dec 25, 2011
    Certainly one of the year's best films. Ezra Miller deserves a nomination just like Tilda Swinton. Well adapted. Will glue you to the screen until the end.
  31. Dec 23, 2011
    This film starts out on the premise that it will build into an exciting vehicle but in reality it is just attempting to spin it's wheels, while in reality the clutch is blown and momentum never gained. After 40 minutes of watching I was sorely tempted to gouge my eyes out with the back end of a spoon! A pretentious, meandering failure that maybe only wine drinking arty emo's might enjoy. Woefully tedious performances that bear absolutely zero resemblance to reality make this film seriously B grade even though the budget was strong enough to lure 'professional' names. Avoid this film or I guarantee you will be disgustedly disappointed in yourself for not heeding this warning. Expand
  32. Dec 19, 2011
    A riveting performance by Tilda Swinton, soars above some of the arch characterization of the psychotic son and script flaws. The nightmare is matched perfectly by the compelling art house surreal film making. It's a story so uncomfortable to watch, but like some horrific accident on the freeway, you can't look away.
  33. Dec 15, 2011
    This is a "bad seed" movie that is done so intricately and thoughtfully that its impact stays with you for a good while. What I found interesting is that the filmmaker took a well-worn subject and played with it without making it a story of bad and good. The acting is excellent and, as a parent, it hit me on a deeper level about fears we have for our children, while exploring the frustration experienced when dealing with a child's problematic behavior or defects in a child's character. Expand
  34. Dec 14, 2011
    The story is somewhat muddled by the face that you have an evil child ( think Omen evil ) who then in latter life commits a massacre. The massacre part , with all the real memories of Columbine etc, is somewhat diluted by the unrealistic evilness of the villain. It would have played better if the kid was unusual but he was too Omenese to be believable.
  35. Dec 12, 2011
    Even weeks after watching the movie, it lingers in my mind. Performances are exceptionally strong, direction has a vision, even though cutting between present-past in the film is somewhat distracting

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: Steve Persall
    Mar 24, 2012
    Next to Swinton's excellent portrayal of a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown, the movie belongs to the two Kevins, young actors with matching arched eyebrows and sullen expressions.
  2. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Mar 22, 2012
    Watching it isn't easy, but it is definitely worth having waited for.
  3. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Mar 22, 2012
    Critics starved for thoughtful movies will often mistake the will for the deed. A serious film about an important subject seems like an important film, even if the effort falls far short of the target. So it is with We Need to Talk About Kevin.