Today: July 22, 2024

Kids Are All Right, The

Modern dysfunctional families
can take note in this Oscar friendly drama.

Finding
two of Hollywood’s, indeed cinema’s, most brilliant female actresses and
casting them as a lesbian couple was always going to have delicious results. But set aside the ‘gay’ issue and more than
anything The Kids Are All Right works as a universally themed portrait of a
family
.

Nic
(Bening) and Jules (Moore) are a very much an in love
couple. Nic is the workaholic serious type while Jules prefers the more
free-spirited approach. Nonetheless they have managed to raise two children
through their carefully balanced relationship. However, when daughter Joni (Wasikowska) is about to depart for
college her younger brother Laser (Hutcherson)
convinces her to track down their sperm donor father. At first Paul (Ruffalo) is the shiny new toy for the
children to get excited about but before long his presence is having an adverse
effect on the family unit.

With
its Indy sensibilities and keen eye for characters The Kids Are All Right was
always going to draw interest from the award season. Suffice to say it warrants
it. It works on one level as a whip
smart drama but beneath it is a clever message relating to nature versus
nurture
. The things that impact us all, not just the youth of today, but
how everyone is susceptible to outside influences. This is particularly true of
Jules who is immediately drawn to Paul’s easygoing ways. So while she agrees to
landscape his garden Nic quietly seethes at the way in which Paul is able to
monopolise her family’s lives.

Watching from the outside we
are able to act as psychotherapists for these characters all the while basking
in their LA, sun drenched lives
. While it might sometimes stray into melodrama it
remains affectionately accessible. Much of this is due to a cast on wonderful
form. Mark Ruffalo brings such charm to the role of Paul you cannot help but
fall in love with him. Sure he feels like a young Dude Lebowski but who wouldn’t want to hang out with him? Moore
continues to be the most reliable actress working today, rarely, if ever, does
she put a foot wrong. As Jules she oozes maternal charm, very much the fun
loving mother to Bening’s disciplinarian. In fact one without the other would
not work, both in terms of the story and the performances. While Bening was Oscar nominated for her role, and rightfully so as her
controlled biting performance as Nic is always grating yet never without
empathy, this is a double header in every sense of the term
.

Delicate
and funny but most of all poignant, while The Kids Are All Right might not have
the epic and lavishness of other Oscar nominees it has enough drama and heart
to match them. As long as the
performances and simple story are this engaging then it is not just the kids
that are all right but us as well.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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