The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Rated – R
Directed by: Lisa Cholodenko
Starring: Annatte Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo
The Kids Are All Right is one of those films that is difficult to put in only one genre, but at the same time is very easy for the public to pull out from a pile (“Oh, that’s the lesbian movie”). It’s also a film where a lot happens without anything really major happening. But after all is said and done, it’s a beautiful film about life, marriage, family, and love.
The film spans through one summer in California. Joni (Mia Wasikowska) has graduated from high school and is spending her last few months at home before she moves into college. She has a younger brother, Laser (Josh Hutcherson), and two moms, Nic (Bening) and Jules (Moore). It’s clear that this unconventional family is a close and happy one in the beginning of the film, but when the children seek out their biological father, things get flipped upside-down.
This man is Paul (Ruffalo), an easy-going, adult hippie who is in the food business and owns a small restaurant. The children immediately take a liking to Paul, mainly because he is everything their moms aren’t. Nic immediately doesn’t like the idea of her children meeting their biological father. She’s had a tight wrap around her entire family for so long, she doesn’t want to see it jeopardized. Jules is a little bit less concerned, and finds that she gets along with Paul very well. But as the frustration between Nic and Jules peaks, an affair between Jules and Paul begins.
It simply amazes me how such a small, independent film like this could contain such excellence. First and foremost, the acting is phenomenal. All the three major players in this film bring to the table their talents and this results in great chemistry. Annette Bening is a power-house as Nic, the controlling doctor who has lost her passion for Jules and instead concentrates her time to her job and her children. Julianne Moore is very good at playing the victim and the perpetrator throughout the film. And Mark Ruffalo is outstanding at probably the most challenging role in the film. His character goes through the most change, from a free-spirited adult-child to one that learns to love the children and wants a family. But when you mix in his immaturity, he has an expression of cluelessness, like a child who is being reprimanded but doesn’t understand what he did wrong.
In addition to the acting, the directing and writing by Lisa Cholodenko is incredible. There is a scene in the film whem Nic finds out that Jules and Paul are sleeping with each other. She composes herself and sits back down at the dinner table with the rest of the family. Within those two minutes, all of the chatter turns to mumbles and you sense she is going to snap at any moment. As you watch the pain in her eyes and the uncertainty what to do about the news she just discovered, you’re heart is beating as loudly as hers. It was the best scene in the entire film.
There is hardly a false note throughout this honest and realistic film about the difficulties of marriage and raising a family. The brilliance about this film is showing how even a family so untraditional like the one in this movie can go through the exact same conflicts as one with a mother-father parenting team. The Kids Are All Right have lesbian characters, but it’s about all families and the hard work everyone goes through to make it work year after year.