Sasha’s review will be up shortly. Until then, we’re seeing a range of mostly deep enthusiasm from other critics blown away to various degrees today.
Andrew O’Hehir, Salon: “We Need to Talk About Kevin” is a lot of things: A visual essay on the color red, a triumph of sound design and musical-visual counterpoint, a chronologically disordered, collage-style portrait of a family’s disintegration; a character study of a woman who surrendered her urbanity and her independence for her family and reaps the whirlwind from those seeds of bitterness. It’s also a non-American director’s movie about the soullessness of American suburbia, which bothers me some because it’s so hackneyed but might bother me more if it weren’t so convincingly rendered. But when you break it down to essentials, it’s a monster movie — and I think all discussion of its craft and subtlety (which are considerable) or about how great or how evil it is are constrained by that fact.
The monster isn’t Eva, although she may have some doubts about that. The monster is her lithe and handsome teenage son Kevin (played by Ezra Miller in the present tense, and even more unnervingly by Jasper Newell as an almost affectless younger child), who has, we gather, committed an unspeakable, headline-grabbing crime. We know that from the beginning of the movie, by the way; Ramsay hopscotches compulsively backward and forward through time, frequently alighting on the night when Eva must push her way through a crowd of stricken onlookers and emergency vehicles surrounding her son’s high school. It’s the scale of Kevin’s monstrous act, and its tangled prehistory, that are gradually revealed.