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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes you think
As a retired teacher of 34 years here in New York, the movie made me think back to the times I have had to deal with disturbed students with that "look in their eye". The movie was well-acted with Ezra Miller doing a phenomenal job as Kevin. The actor that portrayed Kevin at a younger age was also great. John C. Reilly as the father made me think of the parents I have...
Published on 6 Mar 2012 by S. Ciaccio

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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary film. Not 'enjoyable' but certainly interesting.
Tilda Swinton acts as a strong heart to this film, having to convey many states, from travel-writer and explorer, to mother, to the vilified mother of a monster after her teeneage son commits an atrocity.
Most of it is portrayed with exceptional skill. Swinton excels at the brittle and shattered mother struggling to get by amidst the torrent of hate and judgement...
Published 23 months ago by Benminx


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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes you think, 6 Mar 2012
As a retired teacher of 34 years here in New York, the movie made me think back to the times I have had to deal with disturbed students with that "look in their eye". The movie was well-acted with Ezra Miller doing a phenomenal job as Kevin. The actor that portrayed Kevin at a younger age was also great. John C. Reilly as the father made me think of the parents I have dealt with who are the "enablers"- the ones who refuse to accept that there is a problem. This film has been a great discussion point among myself and my friends, teachers and non-teachers, parents and non-parents. The big debate : What created a child like Kevin and how could he have been dealt with ? Are there any right answers ? I highly recommend this film, but be prepared to experience a myriad of emotions.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am the context...., 13 Mar 2014
Each year a film is released from nowhere that screams 'see me' and blows all other movies straight out of the water.

This is the movie,and for me, the best movie released in 2011.

Swinton is magnetic as the mother who is carrying more demons than any other screen character seen in a long time, and it's down to her son, the titular Kevin.

Equally shared in flashbacks and present, the movie has that awful tension throughout, with red being the predominant colour, and the feel of time not moving, thanks to the use of alarm clocks.

The present is a woman trying to get on with her life after an unthinkable tragedy, and the flashbacks show her ever rising struggle with her son.

There is no indication as to why Kevin is how he is, but the look on the three actors who portray him, is there, done with excellent gravitas.

All performances are flawless, and the false happiness within the family is actually quite depressing on hindsight.

The film shows its true colour when we see Swinton standing next to a pneumatic drill, to get some peace from her sons crying.

As the years go by, she begins to live with the hatred her son shows, but all of this is just a build up to the final act, when everything is revealed, which is still shocking, even though the audience know this will not end well.

The school scene is seminally downbeat, but then it goes one step beyond when we get back home.

The only rational reason I can conclude is that Kevin didn't kill his mother because he wanted her to live with the loss, and to hate each day of her now worthless life.

It's brilliantly directed by Ramsey, each scene filled with with an aura of despair, but somehow still managing to captivate.

Truly the best film of 2011, and would make a great evenings viewing with Herzogs 'My son, My son, What have Ye done?' You must see this
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary film. Not 'enjoyable' but certainly interesting., 5 May 2012
Tilda Swinton acts as a strong heart to this film, having to convey many states, from travel-writer and explorer, to mother, to the vilified mother of a monster after her teeneage son commits an atrocity.
Most of it is portrayed with exceptional skill. Swinton excels at the brittle and shattered mother struggling to get by amidst the torrent of hate and judgement heaped her way every day, but she's always been good at playing the wounded or the outsider. Playing Kevin's unwilling mother - unable to bond with her baby, and unable to get him to warm to her either - she's also very good. Where she utterly failed to convince me was as the 'carefree explorer' and travel writer who lived for adventure. In those segments she never feels anything other than a performer going through the motions. Luckily they're sparse. However, they're also quite chilling. The films opens with her explorer self crowd-surfing at the 'la Tomatina' Spanish event where crowds pelt each other with ripe tomatoes, and the film plays the crowds writhing and covered in red with eerie hints of screams and panic echoing in to echo the future atrocity Kevin will commit. It's a memorable opening, and the film remains as visually strong throughout.
Much praise has been heaped upon Ezra Miller for what is undoubtedly an extremely assured and powerful performance as the teenage Kevin, but as much credit should be given to Jasper Newell playing the 6-8 year old version who actually carries most of the running time. It's during the earlier years that we see Swinton's character struggling to coax any reaction except cold emnity from her child, as if he senses the fact that he was unwanted, and he reacts in kind.
These sequences are a masterful power play of manipulation, passive aggression and emotional violence, with the oblivious father played by John C Reilly breezing into them to be greeted by a suddenly charming and chirpy child.
The film is convincing in the emotional reactions of all involved, and there are emotionally shattering and true-feeling moments in the aftermath of the tragedy. The student who doesn't hold a grudge despite his own hardship, and the co-worker who thinks he can take advantage ring especially surprising but true.
As the teenage Kevin, Miller is as malevolent, manipulative and charming as a cobra, sociopathic in the extreme. Perhaps the strongest moment of the film is the scene where his mother has made exceptional efforts to try to heal their relationship only for him to cut her down with such a stinging, withering and contemptuous verbal barrage that you feel that anyone in her shoes would be equally struck dumb with shock.
While the film tastefully avoids showing much of the actual violence, it remains an emotionally brutalising ride, and puts a surprisingly emotional case forward, implying that while she may have been instrumental in the formation of a monster, the mother was suffering just as much as everybody else.
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57 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great film of a great book, 23 Oct 2011
This review is from: We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) [DVD] (DVD)
Having read the brilliant book by Lionel Shriver I was expecting a lot from this movie and it really didn't disappoint. A woman (Eva played by Tilda Swinton)gives birth to a son but suffering with some sort of depression cannot connect with her baby, the boy as he then grows up starts acting stranger and stranger until one fateful night onto which the movie builds. The film starts and carries on throughout going back and fourth from past to present it sounds a little disorienting but works very well, as we see the town having a hatred towards Eva and gradually seeing why this is (although it's fairly obvious what he did). There is almost no violence on screen in the film but the colour red is very prominant from the opening shot on, also the film very heavy in symbalism the lychee scene is one example -kevins sister had an injury to her eye he just peels and chews on one. Performance wise The two leads are excellent Ezra Miller as teenage kevin is chillingly realistic in his portrayal, John C Reilly is good but in a pretty thankless role as the father, also Jasper Newell as young kevin is very good, but the film belongs to the astounding Tilda Swinton as the troubled Eva, it would have been very easy to over play her role but she gives a very controled but fantastic performance. Scottish Director Lynne Ramsey comes back brilliantly to directing after a 10 year gap and with this under her belt it certainly won't be another 10 years until her next film. Recommended to anyone psychological thriller/horror's.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars THERE IS NO POINT, THAT'S THE POINT, 23 Jun 2013
By 
The Movie Guy "Movies from A to Z" (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) [DVD] (DVD)
The film is told in juxtaposing flashbacks with Kevin as a teen (Ezra Miller) and a child (Jasper Newell). It centers around his mother Eva (Tilda Swinton) whose life has gone from having fun in Paris to a living hell. We know Kevin ends up in jail over some haunting event which has caused everyone to hate Eva. The film shows us injured people, a little girl with an eye patch, a man in a wheel chair and we think "Kevin?" The film also likes to use the color red.

It is a mystery in which everyone knows what has happened except the audience. Kevin is smart, mean, and cynical. He seems to represent a generation raised on too much TV and computers, although we don't see him over indulging in either.

Tilda Swinton gives us a great performance in a script that is disjointed by design to give us a specific feel. If you like a film that is designed to make you feel drained after watching it, this is it.

PARENTAL GUIDE: F-bomb, sex, brief nudity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning film, 20 Sep 2012
By 
Kona (Emerald City) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) [DVD] (DVD)
Eva (Tilda Swinton) is a wife and mother who has just experienced the last in a series of shattering incidents. In flashbacks, we see her happy life change forever with the birth of her unusual son. From that first day, she never feels any bond with him while he seems equally detached from and even hateful toward her.

This is an incredibly intense and heartbreaking film, dealing with the problem of alienation, the nature of familial love, and unspeakable violence. All of the actors are excellent and I'm surprised they and the movie didn't get some Oscar nominations. Swinton is utterly convincing as the emotionally-drained mother; she kept me on the edge of my seat every second. John C. Reilly is very likable as the nave, loving husband. The three young actors who play Kevin are remarkable; their performances are so intense I could barely watch them, yet couldn't look away. The flashback format is sometimes confusing but helps to convey the chaotic, emotional, roller coaster that is Eva's life.

This chilling, excruciatingly sad story is hard to watch, but the acting, writing, and direction are just outstanding. Highly recommended (but not if you're looking for a fun movie).
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chilling, 9 May 2012
By 
P. Davie - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) [DVD] (DVD)
Ok - so I am reading the book and just about getting into it. I started to read it on the basis that everyone told me I MUST read it if I thought the film was good. It isn't the usual way round to do things but hey - I can't turn back time now.

First of all, then - I don't know whether this film does the book 100% justice - hence the 4* as opposed to five. What I do know, however, is that Eva's pain, misery, self-loathing and her harping back to her highly over-glamourised travelling past are all captured expertly - if you can take the fact that they are captured in tortuously slow, almost abstract shots. Second of all, you have to ask yourself, before watching this, do I like art films? If you don't like art films then I refer you to the latter half of my previous comment. A lot of the emotion in the book (as I have read so far) is conveyed with a lot of words. In the film, it is often conveyed with looks, not words. There is no narration and, for the first 15 or so minutes, very little dialogue. What is interesting is the way past and present are spliced together in this part of the film - her idealisation of her care-free past, set against the drudgery of living in the aftermath of an horrendous event. Conveyed with aplomb by both director and Swinton, Eva alternates between a kind of euphoria and a vapid, bewildered state of confused torment. Some may argue the red is overdone - I felt its relentlessness was suitably unforgiving and unforgettable.

So, the rest of the film. Well, the dialogue never really gets much above the odd one or two words and some may find that annoying. I didn't. I did wonder when things were going to get a little more "regular" but after a while I just settled to observing the family at work. So here seems to be a sensible juncture to mention the family. Eva, as I have mentioned, is played expertly by Swinton. She comes across as hedonistic and self-centred then resigned to her "fate" as a parent. She tries and tries - but it is clear that her heart is only in it because it has to be. Once or twice the director lets us know that directly - and when we see it, we see the trouble brewing. Franklin is also played to perfection by Reilly - an almost happy-go-lucky buffoon. Sadly, though, one we may all be familiar with.....post natal depression? C'mon, you'll get over it....kids cry, it'll pass......don't stifle him.....etc, etc. It's not quite that he is totally without concern as such - just that he has little idea of how to be effective. Once again, a fairly subtle performance of all this, too - nothing is ridiculously overt (as perhaps I may have painted it). Then there's the daughter - kind of cheery, her performance is solid and believable - she looks uncomfortably impressed with her brother; as if she doesn't quite know whether to be or not.

Then there's Kevin himself. At all stages, he is played with absolute chilling perfection. And a quick note about what chilling refers to here. Ever had one of those moments when you look someone in the eye, perhaps talking about some controversial issue, and get that sense of "I don't know you."? That lack of connection all of a sudden - the inability to empathise. That's what is chilling. The actors have not just been told to stare, they have been told to look like they don't care that they don't get Eva and don't want to. Ezra Miller is good at this because he has a face that is somewhat more suited to "that look" - but the younger child actor also manages it. Particularly when mocking his mother's speech. It's chilling because it simply says - so what? And it is done brilliantly here.

So - a quick note on the hoo-haa this novel and film have caused regarding the nature vs nurture debate. Many have argued this film seems to portray Kevin as pure evil from the start. This is clearly nonsense. It is made clear that neither mother nor father are particularly able as parents and are little interested in teaching Kevin anything about manners or behaviour. And that, really, is given away by the title, isn't it - we need to talk about Kevin but we never get round to it? So no, I am afraid this film does not go down the route of stating that the child is evil at birth. Awkward, maybe, but not evil. And it never really states emphatically that Kevin has been corrupted by poor parenting and that is the root of the problem, either. What is does, which is far more clever, is point out that Kevin is clever. Intuitive. Manipulative. He is able to "play" both parents and, with inadequate direction from either of them, eventually slips into total amorality.

Which brings me onto the subject of inherent evil. There is no such thing. Evil is a judgement made by society. Eva is considered evil, for example, by her neighbours. Some might regard her neighbours' actions as evil. It is not something diabolical (though its roots are, as a concept). It is behaviour which society deems unacceptable. It is society - parents, teachers, friends, relatives, the media, the government - who aim to teach children what is deemed evil and what is not. Therefore, what some people have called evil is simply someone not having been taught to give enough of a damn. To empathise. So, if he wants to do it, Kevin goes ahead and does it. He is a fictional example of someone who does what he wants because he wants to and never mind the consequences - and there appears to be no teaching him otherwise.

Whether you blame the parents, inadequate schooling, or an inherent wilfulness, this film leaves largely for you to decide.

It made my skin crawl and I was thinking about it for days after watching it. Very, very good.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 9 Mar 2012
By 
Bluebell (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) [DVD] (DVD)
I was looking forward to seeing this film having greatly enjoyed Lionel Shriver's memorable novel. What a disappointment! I couldn't make head or tail of the first 30 minutes or so which were an incomprehensible mish-mash of scenes flipping back and forward in time with no apparent rational other than the director wanted to have lots of arty shots with allusions to the colour red. I thought it a mistake to give an indication at the start of the film about Kevin's final fate, whereas in the book his aberrant personality is gradually revealed which is much more effective. The film settles down after the bizarre beginning and starts to tell the story but is nothing like as moving and thought-provoking as the book.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whose fault was it anyway?, 13 Jan 2012
By 
Dariush Alavi "DariushAlavi.com" (Hampshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Not having read the Lionel Shriver novel on which this film is based, I went in with foreknowledge about nothing except - as is often the way - the story's concluding revelation. Still, this didn't detract from what turned out to be a moving, unsettling, deeply visceral cinematic experience. Tilda Swinton is consistently excellent as the mother of an odd teenage son whose behaviour casts a deep shadow on the life of her whole family. And Lynne Ramsay's directing unashamedly turns the entire film into an exercise in subjective story telling, a move that's entirely appropriate for a story in which different points of view and individuals' perceptions of events have a direct bearing on the development of the plot. Psychologically astute and totally mesmerising.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Two dimensional, 30 April 2012
By 
MisterHobgoblin (Melbourne) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) [DVD] (DVD)
We Need To Talk About Kevin is hard to judge as a film in its own right. Most viewers will have at least some idea of what is ahead of them, even if they haven't read the book. But, to be honest, most will have read the book. And we need to agree, up front, that the book is one of the most powerful, arresting and complex movels in the past decade.

So, to try to take the film on its own merits is a bit of a fool's errand. For most viewers, it cannot exist in isolation. And for those few who come at it genuinely fresh I can imagine it is very confusing. The basic plot - which people on mard may not yet know - is thatKevin Katchadourian is a schoolkid who has shot his classmates, is in prison and his mother has been left to pick up the pieces.

Anyway, one of the fundamental differences between film and book is that whereas the book is full of words; the film is almost silent. Where we had letters and justifications and pontification; deep descriptions and feelings in the novel, we are left with silent screenshots and sparse dialogue. There is no interior monologue and, pretty as some of the screenshots are, they convey little meaning. The viewer is supposed to keep track of the three principal strands of story through the length of Eva's hair. Eva's backstory (setting up her own, hippy travel guide company) is compressed into a single scene of throwing tomatoes at a festival. Kevin's father and sister are just cardboard cut outs. Kevin in jail has nothing to say.

The film simply presents an evil boy who does evil things - with a rather unconvincing evil grin on his face. There is no sense of alienation; no questions raised about whether Eva created the monster; no questions about whether the bond between Eva and Kevin was one of love or contempt. The answers in the film are too easy, based on evidence that is too impenetrable - if that isn't a contradiction. The film is too short and utterly the wrong medium to tell the story. Not every novel - however well it sells - works as a film.

This is not a good adaptation and what little merit the film has is a pale reflection of the quality of the book.
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We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) [DVD]
We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) [DVD] by Lynne Ramsay (DVD - 2012)
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