Originally Reviewed – 8/10/2010
Relationships can be exhilarating yet exhausting, infuriating yet nurturing, painful while at the same time poetic. They are life’s ultimate dichotomy. Consisting of hard work and sacrifice that can be a challenge one day and a pleasure the next, relationships transform the people involved from individuals concerned with who they are in favor of the more worldly “who we are”. More than sex, more than money, even more than the need for human connection, a relationship transcends those bounds into something much more meaningful and much more special. If love is insanity, than a relationship is the working practice of that craziness, a symbiotic co-existence that takes two very different people and makes them one, sometimes kicking and screaming along the way.
:::snaps my fingers:::
Hey. what happened? You still there? Think I lost you for a second.
Oh, I get it, you got lost in that long winded paragraph about relationships. Why the tangent? Simple. Every time I tell somebody that I just saw The Kids Are All Right and that it’s one of my favorite movies of year, people always pause and then respond, “Oh! The lesbian movie!
Stop it right there. The Kids Are Alright is a special film that gives you a no- nonsense yet heartfelt look into the trails and passions of modern day relationships with not a trace of schmaltz in the entire movie. Let’s just say that if a movie can make an admittedly embittered critic wax poetically about love, then it has done its job in spades. Kids transcends sexuality and is one of the finest movies about relationships, family and the struggle it takes to keep everything intact I have ever seen and is a lock for my Top 5 of the year.
The story revolves around two lifelong partners, Nic, played by Annette Bening, and Jules played by Julianne Moore. Nic and Jules also have two teenage children, Joni and Laser born from a seemingly anonymous sperm donor. When the kids start getting curious about whom their biological father really is, enter Mark Ruffalo as Paul, their sly talking chef surrogate father. When Paul starts to work his way into the family, the relationship between the usually stoic Nic and the wilder Jules gets strained beyond anybody’s imagination.
Among the many shining aspects of the film, top marks have to be given to writer / director Lisa Cholodenko for crafting one of the best screenplays I’ve seen this year. Full of honest emotion, humor and pathos, the film features one of those scripts that seems effortlessly written. With many of the stories pulled directly from Cholodenko’s own experiences in a same sex relationship, Kids feels like an inadvertent home movie where the camera was left on unintentionally, giving us the lows as well as the highs of this modern day family. Cholodenko also deserves full credit for her delicate touch behind the camera, directing a fine cast of actors and actresses with a sweet sensibility that allows the audience to instantly identify with these richly drawn characters.
Speaking of the acting, Kids features a diverse and well utilized cast, with not a blemish among them. While Moore and Bening play their parts to expected perfection, the real surprises are Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson as the couple’s teenage children. Much of the integrity of the film rested on their performance and they play their parts naturally, without a single smirk over the circumstances. Mark Ruffalo is the only cast member who plays to type and while it works just fine for this movie, it would be nice to see him branch out from the rough yet slick character he usually plays.
And the gushing could continue on and on and on. From direction to casting, acting to story, even the Vampire Weekend song the film opens with, The Kids Are All Right is a film that deserves the moniker ‘pitch perfect’. The film’s great success not only lies in the way it portrays same sex partnerships but in the way it bridges that gap for everybody to appreciate. Like I mentioned in the opening, this is a film about relationships in general and never once is the sexual orientation of Jules and Nic used as a punch line or a device. These are real people with real love in their hearts and the result is a joy of a movie that is worth seeing over and over again. Maybe I’m being a touch premature, but if I don’t see this movie up for a few Oscars come February, I’m going to be shocked. The Kids Are All Right truly provides a little something for every filmgoer to enjoy and the result is a wonderfully realized film that should be seen as soon as humanly possible.
Score – 100%