Reviews

The Kids Are All Right

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Bening and Moore head a mother lode of talent…

Kids are all right

A “Celebration of the tribe, the good and the bad” is how writer/ director Lisa Cholodenko describes The Kids Are All Right on a featurette.

She’s not wrong – her accolades-magnet dramedy is funny and moving, breezy and dramatic. But above all it’s relatable – no matter how (un)conventional your own family may be.

That the parents of this particular clan are lesbians is neither here nor there, and only an unshakeable cynic would credit the film’s awards recognition to its right-wingbaiting conceit.

Its success lies in the smart, sharp screenplay (co-scripted by Stuart Blumberg): one that explores universal themes – relationship troubles, identity struggles – without resorting to mawkish resolutions, while energised by plenty of snappy one-liners (“I need your observations like I need a dick up my ass!”).

Then there’s the trio of central performances – Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as the moms of the titular teens and Mark Ruffalo as their estranged, sperm-donor dad.

No crash diets, punishing training regimes or “Look, I’m acting” histrionics (for the most part, anyway) – just good, honest, emotionally complex performances fully deserving of their Academy nods.

Solid support comes from ‘kids’ Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson, even if their characters sometimes get lost in the fray.

If only the disc’s extras were as enlightening as the film’s insights into modern family values: Cholodenko’s “guided meditation” (that’s a commentary to the rest of us) offers background detail, but the three-minute Making Of – an extended trailer peppered with a couple of talking heads – is surely in breach of the Trade Descriptions Act.

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