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We Need to Talk About Kevin: movie review

The psychological thriller 'We Need to Talk About Kevin' is disturbing and creepy, but it also has a soullessness.  

By Peter RainerFilm critic / January 13, 2012

In 'We Need to Talk About Kevin,' Tilda Swinton is a mother who faces difficult questions after her son commits a horrible act.

Nicole Rivelli/HOEP/Oscilloscope/AP

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In "We Need to Talk About Kevin," Tilda Swinton plays a mother, Eva, who doesn't relish the role of motherhood. Her son Kevin (played as an adult by Ezra Miller) doesn't relish the role of son. Between the two of them, they're quite the dysfunctional couple.

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Not many movies have dealt with the ways in which mothers can be less than enamored of their children. In "Kevin," Eva's disregard eventually leads to a horrific incident that raises the question: Did she set the stage for this situation or is Kevin simply a bad seed? Even from the cradle he seems dead-eyed and bent on making life miserable for his mother.

Scottish director and co-writer Lynne Ramsay, adapting the novel by Lionel Shriver, plays this story out as a species of horror story, but the pacing, interrupted by flashbacks and flash-forwards, is sluggish, the production is overdesigned, and the performances, which also include John C. Reilly as the boy's father, are too on the mark. It's a creepy and disturbing movie, but there's not a lot going on behind people's eyes. The soullessness lacks soul. Grade: C (Rated R for disturbing violence and behavior, some sexuality, and language.)

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