Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Kids Are Alright ~ Movie Review

This was one of the most complicated movies that I have ever seen. I had wanted to see it when it came out because not only was the content something that I was interested in, but it also has a cast of people whom I love in pictures. So, when came across it on IN DEMAND, I decided there was no better time than the present.

The Kids Are All Right: A lesbian couple chooses one sperm donor to father a child delivered by both women. The kids are teens and want to contact their father because they are curious, but do so without knowledge of their parents. Stars Annette Bening (Nic), Julianne Moore (Jules), Mark Ruffalo (Paul), Mia Wasikowska (Joni), and Josh Hutcherson (Laser).

Knowing the premise of this movie, let's just jump right in. Nic wears the pants in the family and is a successful doctor who seems to be a little distant from everyone in her family. Jules is the nurturer of the kids, a stay at home mom who has a free spirit and outlook to match. From the beginning of the movie, you get the gist that there is already tension in the marriage due to the body language and facial expressions during conversations. Their daughter Joni, born to Nic, is 18 and embarking on her summer before college with a peaceful attitude. Their son Laser, born to Jules, is kind of headed for trouble because of a friend that is more than a bad influence. There is lack of communication between Nic and all of them and seems to be an issue of her own doing.

Laser goes to his sister and asks her, since she is 18, to contact the clinic for information about their donor. (I will use the word doner and not father because the movie was heavy on disassociating the audience to see him as the father, just to clarify.) She is reluctant, but knows that it is important to him so she makes the call. From there is where this movie picked up pace and slowly, but steadily did not stop escalating into the land of complicated life. Paul is a restaurant owner who, quite frankly totally forgot about his donation all those years ago, gets a call out of the blue asking if he would be willing to talk to the fruit of his loins. To say that he was surprised is not the right way to explain it, he was shocked!

So begins this very interesting dynamic of how life began for these children, finally meeting the man who was responsible for half of their genes. Paul is a very open guy, but you can tell that he lives life by his rules, and on his terms. He seems a little egotistical at first but that feeling soon diminishes once you see how much his life is changing because of the children he never knew existed. I liked his character. Ruffalo conveyed the confusion, interest and surprise of joy very well with every scene he was in. They meet him alone, at his restaurant the first time and decide that not only do they like him, but think they would like to see him again.

Now, back home Mom and Mom do not know that this contact has been made and start to think the secrecy in their son is something very serious. It comes out that both kids have met the donor and you can tell that they were not prepared for this bomb shell. They panic at first, then after talking decide that perhaps they should also meet Paul so that they know who he is as well. The dinner goes well, and soon they are all becoming acquainted in their delicate situation. The relationships begin to form between Paul and the children, between Paul and Jules, but Nic is at work so often that she is not as involved with the process as the rest of the family. This creates a big problem. She is feeling left out, and she begins to take it out on Jules. This will lead to the most complicated part of the story.

Paul hired Jules to landscape for him, but soon it was not the just the yard that she was landscaping. In being so close to him every day, knowing that her son is his son, she looses herself and ends up in bed with him quite frequently. Spending more and more time with Paul, she has now created the most difficult issue of this movie. He begins to fall for her. He falls hard. At the same time this leads him to fall for the kids as well. Soon, Paul is becoming more of an influence on all three of them, leaving Nic in another realm within the relationship. You just know that this is not going to end well, it's just a matter of how bad the fall out is going to be ... for everyone.

In the end, it is a great dinner at Paul's house that makes the intricate card house come crashing down. It was a beautiful scene. Nic had finally found something that she had in common with Paul, and it was obviously on a deep level for Nic. She opens up beautifully, singing a Joni Mitchell song at the table literally stunning her children as her face showed the memories that the words were conjuring up. Paul sings with her, and finally that connection is made. Everyone at the table could see it, there were peaceful smiles all around. Then Nic goes to the bathroom, and her euphoria soon turns to horror as she finds her wife's hair in Paul's shower drain. To quote a phrase, the shit hit the fan.

A blow up later that night after they left Paul's house left everyone in the family knowing what happened between Paul and Jules. Emotions abound here. The kids turn on both Jules and Paul, mostly Paul. This is where I began to really feel this movie. Paul became the reason of all their strife. Sure, Jules was responsible but she was allowed to explain herself. Paul was shut out. The kids were mad at him. Nic hated him. And Jules is so riddled with guilt that she cuts ties as well. I really felt for Paul in that, here this guy is just living his life and out of no where he finds out he has two kids. He does his best to be there when he can, he makes an effort to get to know them, he is really looking forward to relationships with these kids but he just has no say in what is to happen. I would think it would be his character that feels the biggest loss in this film. The last time we see him in the movie, he is at their front door just wanting to say his final thoughts, yet no one wants to talk with him.

The end of the movie follows soon after this. As you can guess it entails this family trying to pick up the pieces of a major life change, or at the least life event, that has occurred over the summer. I would have enjoyed seeing a little more about how or if Paul would come back into their life, but I am sure that is not the point that this movie wanted to make. It was much more about the relationship between the women than about the relationships of the children and their father. I liked it, it had a lot of good humor and surprised me a few times with the tenderness of the story. I would recommend it, it is worth the watch if for nothing else, to come back here and tell me what you thought about it ;)

I would give it a 6 on a scale to 10.


Anonymous said...

This was the first movie I went to after placing my son, I'm pretty sure I was drawn to it as a bmom who placed with a gay couple and wondering how they would showcase the relationship between the kids and their bfather. I really enjoyed it, I thought there was a lot of honesty in the story, things were shown more real rather than playing up stereotypes or even going for shock value. I also love Mark Ruffalo and thought he was phenomenal in this movie.
But the thing I really remember about this movie (I saw it 6 months ago), is one of the last scenes, the scene where the daughter was being dropped off at college. The moment she went from celebrating her freedom to realizing she hadn't said goodbye, well that's what stuck with me, I'm pretty sure I had that same moment when I went away to college.

A Life Being Lived said...

This was on my "to see" list but I was a little afraid it might trigger some hard emotions. I'm really anxious to see it now!