Director: Lisa Cholodenko
Writers: Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
Producers: Gary Gilbert, Philippe Hellmann, Jordan Horowitz & others
Starring: Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson
BBFC Certification: 15
Duration: 106 minutes
It’s a sad fact that films can often be spoilt by the hype. Perhaps the critics weren’t expecting much from a first time director of a low budget film and got carried away when the performances were solid and the script sharp enough to make you laugh out loud. From then on the film is a hit no matter what anyone says, it’s the one everybody’s talking about. But audiences aren’t always as discerning, they don’t make allowances for first timers, they just want to know if its a “good” film or not.
I was expecting more from this first feature by Lisa Cholodenko, mainly because of the hype surrounding The Kids Are All Right. Granted a lot of this hype was because the film breaks some new ground. It’s about a lesbian couple who’ve had two children with a sperm donor and when the oldest child, Joni reaches 18 she decides she wants to contact the donor. He turns out to be a kindly easy going waster who bonds with her and her brother straight away, but ultimately still a waster. This isn’t a film about lesbians adopting as such, it’s not about what its like to be a gay parent as opposed to a straight one just about what its like to be a parent and a spouse and that’s where the film is fresh in its approach as if the writer is just being herself rather than “writing” herself.
The film is also funny, there were times when the entire cinema was laughing. An impressive feat for a first time writer, although a necessary one in a dialogue heavy film with little action. The characters are believable and all the performances convincing, painfully so at times. Annette Bening probably comes off the strongest as a woman sliding into middle age, trying to keep hold of relationships with her teenage children and her younger, more attractive and restless spouse. Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland) as the daughter is also impressive.Otherwise I would say this film really is much ado about nothing. Of course if all depends what you’re looking for when you go to the cinema and if you like relationship and personal dramas and prefer witty dialogue to car chases then this may be the film for you. But I couldn’t help wishing that this interesting set up had led to a little more story, perhaps a few more dramatic plot twists. It’s a sterling effort for a first time writer/director but I was left wondering what the film was really about. Despite the fresh approach of The Kids Are All Right Cholodenko will need to come up with some better plots in future if she wants to write films that aren’t simply pigeon holed as ‘Lesbian’.