Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Kids Are All Right

Movie name: The Kids are All Right
Year of release: 2010
Director: Lisa Cholodenko
Stars: Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson, Yaya DaCosta, Kunal Sharma, Eddie Hassell, Zosia Mamet
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 6

Synopsis:Lisa Cholodenko made a name for herself with the acclaimed "High Art", which came out in 1998 and re-established Ally Sheedy's career and simultaneously launched Radha Mitchell's. After that Cholodenko directed two more features, "Laurel Canyon" and "Cavedweller", with different levels of success (in the meantime she also directed episodes of "Six Feet Under" and "The L Word" to name but a few successful TV shows). "The Kids Are All Right" screenplay/story draws directly from her personal experience as part of a lesbian couple raising children.
The film follows Nic and Jules, a lesbian couple who has been together for quite some time. Nic is a doctor, has a more controlling personality, whereas Jules is embarking in a new career as a landscape artist and has a more loose vibe to herself. They both have two children, Joni, a very intelligent young woman, about to go to college and Laser, a young man who is still in high school, who loves sports and is very close to his good friend Clay. Both Joni and Laser are trying to find their birth father, more specifically the sperm donor. They discover Paul to be that person. Paul is a mellow, middle aged man, who owns a restaurant and for whom life is just a stream of casual connections. The dynamics of these seemingly different people makes everyone re-evaluate their lives.
Cholodenko is a director who takes time to let characters grow on screen. Their personalities slowly establish themselves and as such it's always a pleasure to see such accomplished actors really bring these people to life. The film is like looking into the microcosms of this family and how they interact, independently of the sexual dynamics of the parents. Annette Bening and Julianne Moore play their parts perfectly - Bening has almost perfected the part of the uptight woman and Julianne Moore as always gives a pitch perfect performance as someone trying to find herself and realize her potential. Mark Ruffalo brings his usual debonair style to a part that he already knows well enough - in a way his performance is a continuation of what he created in Kenneth Lonergan's "You Can Count on Me": the man who breezes through inconsequential relationships and who suddenly realizes that his youth is fleeting and that the time to have a family and real connection is upon him. Mia Wasikowska also does a good job playing Joni, a young woman trying to establish her own personality. The film ends up being a good showcase for these performers, but also feels a bit contrived in what shows of these dynamics and relationships. An interesting film.