Elevate Difference

The Kids Are All Right

In an attempt to beat the glorious heat last week, I ducked in to the cool air conditioned walls of The Archlight theater in Hollywood to catch an afternoon showing of Lisa Cholodenko's new high femme film, The Kids Are All Right. This movie is so fucking good, and it is refreshing to see a film written and directed by a (feminist, lesbian) woman about a family helmed by (feminist, lesbian) women starring women (who are feminists). The themes in this movie—family, love, sex, growing up—are highlighted by some of the best performances I've seen in quite a while.

Annette Bening (Nic) and Julianne Moore (Jules) play partners who have been together for going on twenty years. They've raised two teenage children, played spot-on by Mia Wasikowska (Joni) and Josh Hutcherson (Laser). When Joni turns eighteen, she and Laser make the decision to track down and contact the sperm donor their mothers used to fertilize their family.

Enter the salacious Mark Ruffalo (Paul). He wears leather, rides a bike, owns an organic restaurant, and scores with chicks. (He's sexy, so sue me.) Anyway... Paul develops a relationship with the clan and the wheel of family discourse is set in motion.

Perhaps the thing that impressed me most about this film was the easy yet indefinable family dynamic. I come from a family that many would have trouble categorizing, so I am always pleased to find films with alternative family constructs that actually work. The fact that these two women happen to be lesbians does not define their characters or their relationships within the family. This is not a "gay movie," nor a "chick flick." No, I would call this movie human, hilarious, heartbreaking, and hopeful.

I left the theater thinking hard about the seemingly random associations with my own family. And a few hours later, I called my mom.

Cross-posted at LA Femmedia

Written by: Kadi Rodriguez, July 27th 2010

I appreciated the film's humor and self-awareness, but called its handling of on-screen sex into question. While I got that our protagonists had been together for a while and that, as a result, their sex life would be... a tad mundane, it seems to me the man/woman sex was depicted with much more freedom and verve. That bugged me. I was also a touch unnerved by the complete dismissal of any possibility of bisexuality.

Still, I liked how relatable the film was. I went to see it with my best friend, a straight engaged parent, and she was easily able to re-contextualize the marriage between Jules and Nic to apply it to her own circumstances. I appreciated that - both about her, and about the film.

Charming review! :)

  • Fellow reviewer Brianna Stallings

Now that I know Lisa Cholodenko directed this I will definitely go check it out. I loved her work in Laurel Canyon.

Great last line!

You make me want to see this movie even more than I already did...however, I'm wary of the "hetero" temptation as seen in the trailer. It looked like the film might veer into lesbians-are-really-attracted-to-men-and-are-just-angry-feminists territory, which would really piss me off. No?

I absolutely loved this. Saw it tonight and thought it was such a great film on so many levels. Why can't more mainstream movies provide such thought-provoking fare in such a mature, sensitive way?