Are All Right
Family values come in all flavors, as is demonstrated by writer/director
Lisa Cholodenko (High Art, Laurel Canyon) in this subtle but moving
peace of modern American storytelling.
to be confused with the late-70s The Who concert documentary, The Kids
Are Alright, this film is a quiet slice of life about an aging couple
coming to terms with their long-term relationship and their rebellious teens
as their oldest daughter prepares to move off to college.
only thing is, this aging couple is lesbian.
that it matters much. Other than a few occasional nods to the women’s
sexuality, this could be any family. In fact, the greatest of the film’s
many strengths is the way they show a lesbian couple so matter-of-factly
that any potential stigmas just seem petty.
is a family drama. The fact that there are two moms and no dad doesn’t
really matter all that much.
yet, as it turns out, it matters a whole hell of a lot.
Years earlier, they had decided they wanted children, so each ended up going
to a sperm bank and being inseminated a few years apart. However, wanting
the children to have the same bloodline, each mother used the same sperm
daughter is turning 18. The son is 15.
Suddenly the boy wants to meet the man who was responsible for giving them
life, even though no one in the family has ever met him – and it turns out
the guy had no clue his sperm was ever used at all.
moms, being liberal sorts, say it’s all right even though it is freaking
them out a bit. The dad turns out to be a low-key and good natured guy who
runs a natural foods restaurant. The kids meet and befriend him. He tries to
ingratiate himself into the whole family, but only goes about opening up
some wounds that were closer to the surface than any of them knew.
description may fool you into believing that The Kids Are All Right
is a bit depressing, but nothing could be further from the truth. The film
is funny, wise, and compassionate towards all of its characters.
acting is superb, as Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as the couple, Mark
Ruffalo as the donor and Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson as the kids all
show the subtle shadings and deep emotions of these fascinating characters.
the characters make some smart moves, some stupid mistakes and above all are
wonderfully recognizably human. It is rare for a film to completely connect
to the human condition in the way that this one does – which definitely
makes it worth seeking out on its limited release.
Whether you believe in gay marriage or are violently opposed really doesn’t
matter. The Kids Are All Right is not a political film. It has no
agenda. It is just showing a trying period for one American family. In
fact, the decision to not frame this film as a lesbian film may cause this
film to casually subvert stereotypes and prejudices in a way that a more
militantly gay film would not be able to pull off.
and Jules aren’t a gay couple. They are just a couple. And their story is
as endlessly fascinating as that of any family.
year is only half-way done, but I don’t think that it is too out of line to
predict that The Kids Are All Right will make it on a whole hell of a
lot year’s best films lists. Deservedly so.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: July 9, 2010.