Reviews

The Kids Are All Right

4

Should be a strong swimmer in 2011’s Oscar race…

The Kids Are All Right

Annette Bening should start looking for a new frock – by rights, she will be pulling her best ‘humble’ face come award season.

She’s the lynchpin of Lisa Cholodenko’s funny, moving and insightful study of bittersweet family dynamics, which shines with a truthfulness that transcends the demographic or sexual orientation of the audience.

Because it would be easy to pigeonhole Kids (on synopsis alone) as aimed purely at the right-on middle classes.

We’re invited into the bourgeois home of brittle, busy doctor Nic (Bening) and her hippy wife Jules (Julianne Moore) as their donor-sperm kids begin to question their genesis.

Now 18, Joni (Mia Wasikowska) is old enough to secretly request a meeting with the biological pa that 15-year-old Laser (Josh Hutcherson) is desperate to meet.

‘Donor Dad’ turns out to be bike-riding eco-restaurateur Paul (Mark Ruffalo), who fancies playing happy families as a hobby. Nic most certainly does not. And Jules… well, from her career to the bedroom, she doesn’t know what she wants…

The fact that Nic and Jules are lesbians is the least important part of a dramedy that touches on the logistics of Sapphic sex, but is more interested in exploring universal family themes.

It’s about the toughness of finding satisfaction in the treadmill of life, the disconnect between kids and their embarrassing parents, the weird curiosity of genetics and those excruciating moments at dinner tables when nerves fray and social niceties suspend.

Co-written with Stuart Blumberg (The Girl Next Door), Cholodenko’s script is an episodic assembly that leaves some characters undernourished and betrays a weakness on the home straight for Big Speeches.

But it’s also a smart screenplay taken to greater heights by the talented cast. Moore is delightfully spacedout as a woman testing different personas, while Ruffalo brings subtlety to a character who could have been a mere dumb stud.

But it is Bening who sears as a likeable jumble of contradictions. She’s snippy, boozy, warm, petty, compassionate, bitchy, heartbroken and heartbreaking. Her tour de force comes during the dinner party from hell with the whole family.

Feeling ambushed, she nevertheless puts her best foot forward and, by turns, displays too-bright sociality, sentimentality, internal horror of betrayal and desolation.

It’s a masterclass – and reason enough to buy your ticket.

Verdict:

Though meandering and sometimes smug, Kids is a Sundance-mainstream crossover that should make 2010 best lists and inspire thankfulness for the family you have.  

Film Details

User Reviews

    • sevdamm

      Feb 25th 2011, 9:40

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    • FBEXanthopoul

      Jan 21st 2012, 16:11

      4

      www.unsungfilms.com by Eleni Antonaropoulou We all slip into the tendency of believing that we are somehow more special than the rest. We often like to consider ourselves better or above it all, but we keep forgetting that at the end of the day, we all are just humans with more or less the same fears, hopes, dreams and feelings. So, with that slipping from my mind, I started watching “The kids are all right”. This movie is written by Stuart Blumberg and co-written and directed by Lisa Cholodenko. The film tells the story of a gay-lesbian married couple, incarnated by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore. Along with two biological children, they appear to be a fully-functional, tightknit family. Or at least they think so. When the “empty nest syndrome” knocks on the door and the youngest kid wants to meet the biological father, played by Mark Ruffalo, the family seems to lose track. The problems that initially appear to be well covered begin to surface. Nic – Annette Bening’s character – is a physician and appears to be the provider of the family, while Jules, portrayed by Julianne Moore, has tried to launch her own business several times unsuccessfully, so has reluctantly committed to looking after the kids. With the couple struggling to face this new reality, the appearance of Paul, the biological father of the two children tips things over the edge. Jules finds herself with an influx of attention from Paul and a spark that has been lacking in her marriage, while unexpected feelings begin to stir. This low budget film managed to achieve four Oscar nominations and win two Golden Globes for Best Picture and Best Actress for Annette Bening, though all of the actors who participate in this movie give excellent performances. “The kids are all right” is a film that manages to show that regardless of what kind of marriage you are in, the problems that arise are more or less the same. The boredom, the complacency and the withering sex life. If you are married with kids, you are bound to find a piece of your life somewhere in this picture. Eleni Antonaropoulou at www.unsungfilms.com

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