October 30, 2010 Leave a comment
When dramas about race, sexuality or the Holocaust abound in the autumn months, one’s guard almost immediately goes up. As critics, perhaps we are too trained to root out so-called “Oscar bait”, yet everything about the marketing for The Kids Are All Right had me convinced that it was nothing but. After all, is a warm, pandering statement about how we’re all people not to be defined by mere labels really what we need? That the film, while entirely undeserving of the persistent Oscar buzz it has recieved, makes the central lesbian relationship almost incidental to the family story is a brave move for two reasons; it dares to deviate from an obvious “Queer Cinema” veneer, which may alienate the expected target audience, and resultingly resists the temptation to rest on its laurels as a fluffy, quirky unconventional family pic.
Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening) are the aforementioned lesbian couple, living in California with their son, Laser (Josh Hutcherson), and daughter, Joni (Mia Wasikowska). Both Jules and Nic had a child each via a sperm donor, and when Joni turns eighteen, Laser convinces her to contact their biological father, Paul (Mark Ruffalo), a fun, laid-back restauranteur who represents a very different way of life compared to the stricter mode employed by their mothers. Indeed, the kids are all right, and it is the adults – particularly Jules and Nic – who must temper their worries that Paul is going to usurp their carefully-preened family unit. (Continued…)