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Parents' Guide to

We Need to Talk About Kevin

By S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Bleak film about disturbed teen is difficult to watch.

Movie R 2011 112 minutes
We Need to Talk About Kevin Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 16+

Based on 5 parent reviews

age 15+


This was a horrible movie plot. The kid was crazy from a young age. I’d like to blame the mom.However she was twisted also. He needed help and she knew . Her being in denial causes the death of many people. I would never watch it again. It’s depressing and sad.
age 16+

Good if you like psych films.

A parent’s nightmare. Of course, there are movies like Rosemary’s Baby and the Omen -but this is a much more realistic account of what happens when your child turns out to be the devil. The mother doesn’t want a child, but makes an attempt to love her son -who senses from the beginning that she doesn’t love him and reacts with hostility. He quickly becomes disturbingly manipulative and has the father eating out of the palm of his hand while he secretly torments the mother. His disturbing behavior increases as he gets older and he ends up locking his classmates into school and shooting them (after killing his father and sister) She should have taken him to a shrink early on. Then again, I’d say it’s definitely partly her fault. How would you turn out if your mother and caretaker faked loving you? & I think there’s a genetic component as well. It’s amazing how you can see that the little psychopath is definitely his mother’s child, even as she’s horrified of him. They’re both cold and judge mental people who show kindness to each other only when mood strikes them. I think the mother must feel some responsibility and guilt when he kills his classmates....you can ask yourself (or teens) : is it her fault? How much of this is her responsibility? Granted, he wasn’t decapitating squirrels in the back yard -but wouldn’t you have taken that kid to therapy? The father dismissed all her complaints, but shouldn’t she have tried harder?

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (5 ):
Kids say (13 ):

There's no doubt that Tilda Swinton turns in a visceral, milestone performance in We Need to Talk About Kevin. As the mother of a teen who must live with her child's horrendous decision, she's nothing short of breathtaking. Viewers see her fall to pieces over the years as she struggles to understand his animosity toward the world and her own feelings toward him.

Still, the movie is too claustrophobic, rendering it hard to watch, amazing acting or no. Portent and despair envelop the film from the first few frames -- a teeming mass of revelers soaked in blood-red tomato sauce. The movie is steeped in premonition and dread, understandable considering the subject matter. But it's relentless -- the heartbeat that underscores certain scenes, the dreary lighting, the persistent red tint to it all. Enough.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: December 9, 2011
  • On DVD or streaming: May 29, 2012
  • Cast: Ezra Miller , John C. Reilly , Tilda Swinton
  • Director: Lynne Ramsay
  • Inclusion Information: Female directors, Non-Binary actors, Queer actors, Female actors
  • Studio: Oscilloscope Pictures
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 112 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: language and intense violence
  • Last updated: June 20, 2023

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