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Thursday, 4 November 2010

Film - The Kids Are All Right directed by Lisa Cholodenko

Star rating – 8/10

If it wasn’t for the fact that the adults in this family drama are lesbians, it could be the story of any nuclear family, with the same tensions, dramas, affection, heartaches, and tedium. And that is part of its charm.

But it isn’t about any old nuclear family, in this one Nic and Jules, superbly played by Julianne Moore and Annette Bening (Oscar nomination bets anyone?), have been together for years, and successfully raised two rounded and amazingly, possibly implausibly, nice teenagers from the same sperm donor. Nic is a high flying doctor who likes her fine wine just a bit too much, and has a touch of OCD and control freakery about her. Jules is a free spirit who gave up her career to raise the children, and is now setting up her own garden landscaping business.

Their children, Joni and Laser, again very convincingly and sensitively acted by Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson, get in touch with their sperm donor father Paul when Joni turns 18. At first they keep this a secret from their Moms, not wanted to hurt them or cause any family friction, but the secret inevitably comes out. Paul is a laid back motor biker with his own restaurant and organic local smallholding. The superb Mark Ruffalo gets exactly the right balance between innocence, irresponsibility, and fun here.

But his presence soon puts the cat amongst the pigeons in the relationship between Nic and Jules. His emerging affection for Joni and Laser is very deftly and subtly played, but it does not stop him from being part of a twist that nearly splits the family apart.

There is no great Hollywood ending - that would feel inappropriate in the context of this smart and funny observational film that is very well acted all round, and a refreshing departure for the mainstream studios.

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