We Need to Talk About Kevin

2012

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Critics Consensus

We Need to Talk About Kevin is a masterful blend of drama and horror, with fantastic performances across the board (Tilda Swinton especially, delivering one of her very best).

75%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 202

78%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 35,175
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Movie Info

A suspenseful and gripping psychological thriller, Lynne Ramsay's We Need to Talk About Kevin explores the factious relationship between a mother and her son. Tilda Swinton, in a bracing, tour-de-force performance, plays the mother, Eva, as she contends for 15 years with the increasing malevolence of her first-born child, Kevin (Ezra Miller). Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, We Need to Talk About Kevin explores nature vs. nurture on a whole new level as Eva's own culpability is measured against Kevin's innate evilness. -- (C) Oscilloscope

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Critic Reviews for We Need to Talk About Kevin

All Critics (202) | Top Critics (47)

  • It becomes a film about her [Swinton] scattered mind. That produces wonders from Swinton, but it ignores the plea in the title. What about Kevin? Kevin deserves so much more attention-indeed, he deserves being played by Tilda Swinton.

    Jun 19, 2013 | Full Review…
  • Fragmented, dreamlike, a whir of memories and misery, We Need to Talk About Kevin is unsettling, but also somehow unnecessary.

    Mar 9, 2012 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • "We Need to Talk About Kevin" is confrontational cinema that will leave you speechless.

    Mar 9, 2012 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Director Ramsay makes Kevin's impact all the more felt by coming at it from all angles.

    Mar 9, 2012 | Rating: A | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic
  • Some movies punish you, but you take it because you're getting something out of the bargain: an insight, a performance, art, adrenaline. Then there are the movies that punish you for the heck of it.

    Mar 8, 2012 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

    Ty Burr

    Boston Globe
    Top Critic
  • Ramsay may be aiming for a character study of Kevin, but she ends up merely listing the ingredients needed to make a murderer.

    Mar 2, 2012 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

    Rafer Guzman

    Newsday
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for We Need to Talk About Kevin

  • Aug 23, 2016
    Deeply disturbing and utterly engaging. Not one I can really see myself watching again. But I'm very glad to have watched it the once. Superbly cast and acted. Brilliant photographed and amazing direction. Not to be missed for those who can handle the subject matter.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 29, 2015
    A mother whose life is ruined by her son's violent act struggles to make sense of his actions and move on. A slow and meandering film, Lynne Ramsay's contemplative drama asks many questions about parenthood, violence, and sociopathy but offers very few answers; for such high topics, one can't blame it for that. For example, we don't get easy answers like gratuitous child abuse or violent video games to saddle Kevin's behavior on. The flashback moments of Kevin's early childhood are all unsettling, and while the multiple storylines don't always mesh to a consistent narrative, Ramsay succeeds in creating an oppressive and tense mood. Overall, if you're tied to the traditional three-act narrative, this film isn't for you, but it is a strong character-based mediation.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Dec 31, 2014
    This film really got to me. Although based on a novel you can't help but be reminded of the atrocities that have occurred in America over the last 10 years. The editing of the film can make the whole thing hard to follow to begin with but it's never boring. My hands were clenched throughout most of the film, especially during the scenes between the mother and son and the tension's built up to the chilling climax. Swinton is very impressive in the role and you never know whether to sympathise with her or blame her. I don't think I'd ever want to sit through this film again but that's simply because I found the whole thing so disturbing.
    David S Super Reviewer
  • Jan 05, 2014
    This is my least favorite Ramsay film effort out of everything she has done in the past, which is something pretty impressive for a 4.5-star film. To begin with, Ramsay knows how to demand effort from her cast and crew, and how to obtain the best performances from her leading roles, usually female. One possibility is that the women from <i>Gasman</i> (1997) all the way through the irrational mysteriousness of Morven Callar (the protagonist) reflect fragments of Ramsay's personality, which is a fascinating constant I've personally found in the filmographies of the talented female moviemakers that have unleashed their challenging projects since the 40s. <i>We Need to Talk About Kevin</i> is no exception, where the personal weaknesses, fears and psychological boundaries of a mother find their way to the surface through a malicious vehicle: the evil nature of her own son. The camera placement is evidently planned as carefully as a bank heist. The whole atmosphere creates tension, and the angles, stares and long silences transform the scenarios into uncomfortable and even emotionally invasive imagery, something commonly seen in European cinema. This point brings me to Ramsay's attempt to apply her technical film roots, which were perceived as minimalist, to her Hollywood-produced thriller. At times, she seems not to be able to resist the temptation to switch to her characteristic style, and at others, she uses long static shots to visually dominate spaces. Both techniques are difficult to achieve and admirable to look at independently, but not in the same film with sporadic interventions. It makes the film look uneven, especially given the notorious difference on the budget she now had. The second minor detail that bothered me was that the blindness and lack of responsibility and marital support of the father is too unrealistic to believe. I see it as a very forced justification for transmitting all of the burden and struggle to the mother so that she can be emphasized as a protagonist, played by Tilda Swinton, who delivers a convincing performance (as the constant it is in Ramsay's body of work). Notice I am criticizing the film as a standalone project, and ignoring the novel completely (as it should be). I see the father as a distracting "background tree" that is just there to keep Eva company, but we really never care about his situation. We see more a tale about a struggling mother, fighting alone, even if she is "married". Often repeated and again said by me, Swinton's work is extraordinary. Her facial expressions transmit the precise emotions that each scene also transmitted; she merged perfectly into every single scene. If the film was a woman that had feelings, looking at Swinton was enough to know what those feelings were. Despite these minor flaws, the film invades your comfortable seat with a haunting visual style about a growing psychopath that shatters the balance of a whole family. Lynne Ramsay is still, in my book, one of the most talented female figures working in the film industry today. 90/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer

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