Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The Kids Are All Right

2010. Dir: Lisa Cholodenko. Starring: Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson. ●●●●○

I wasn't planning on reviewing Lisa Cholodenko's 2010 dramedy given that I missed it at cinemas and only got hold of copy this year (making it ineligible for my own best of consideration) however I have been shamed into doing it by Tom at Reinvention following some other posts. I'm still reluctant though, so instead of a normal considered review (not that I usually consider my reviews) I'm going to rewatch The Kids Are All Right and just type whatever comes into my head whilst watching. Should be interesting. For the record I really enjoyed the relationship building the first time around, all of the performances and the writing worked for me, so it thoroughly deserves the four blobs score above, even if I wasn't blown away. So follow the jump to read up on my utterly random scribblings.

Sunday 12 June, Noon. Just started the film.

I don't like the font from the opening credits.

Effective build up of the differing neurosis of Josh Hutcherson and Mia Wasikowska, and how they relate to their parents. The early dinner sequence was nicely handled and showed a great reflection of family life.

The gay porno segment seems like it's pushing for a cheap laugh.

Nice cut to Mark Ruffalo from the Pacific Cryo Bank file, he's seriously chilled from the moment we first see him.

The locations work really well, each of the properties reflecting the characters that live there. Ruffalo puts foot in mouth again, nicely low-key comic performance. The awkwardness of the first meeting is handled exceptionally well, with expectations affecting the bonding process appropriately.

All the nice conversations get twisted so easily reflecting life, snarky off-handed comments that get taken the wrong way. More gay porn - I can see why they are using it dramatically but it seems like a short cut.

Moore and Bening work very well as a couple. Love the way they work out about the contact with the sperm donor.

More uncomfortable scenes of people eating, with silent judging going on. The how we met story is cute and comic and delightfully likely. Over the course of the movie the relationship between Moore and Bening is developing well, even before anything actually happens, as an audience we're learning more in every scene.

Nature vs. Nurture debate, as relating to kids expressions, would be more interesting if it were looked at in more detail. Seems to have been dropped from the rest of the movie.

Bening keeps pushing everyone away, possibly because she's afraid of losing everyone anyway, is she asking for the consequences. Suddenly aware my thoughts are related to foreknowledge of what's about to happen.


Is the attraction between Moore and Ruffalo based on a latent physical need. What does it say about Moore's sexuality, and the nature of same-sex relationships (I'm not saying I have a problem with the possibility but it's hard to imagine Cholodenko wasn't aware of the consequences of the choice).

Isn't is a massive step from being a tool to wanting to piss on a dog? Not sure I buy that logic.

Ruffalo's making me laugh again.

Interesting juxtaposition between the girls talking about sex vibes at the organic cafe and the adults arguing about Paul as an influence in an up-market restaurant. Paul's driving a wedge between all the relationships.

The way Moore treats her Mexican lackey seems inconsistent, I suppose to prove the effect the affair is having on her judgment, but more so than you would expect.

Bening just outlined her plan to go to Ruffalo's for dinner. Expectation and pride in her eyes. Superb performance.

Break up between Ruffalo and Yaya DaCosta tough and measured. She knocks it out of the park in a minor role.

Bening can't sing, but it's a brave go that works in context to the action. Moore's reactions are priceless. Bening's working it out, not sure I like the camera and sound work, seems a little showy and doesn't fit with the naturalism of the rest of the movie. That said it gives her a chance to shine, playing the micro-expressions.

Teary argument cliched but appropriate. Why were the kids outside the door, none of the fight sounded loud or confrontational. The consequences and game playing the family members are doing to try and find their allies is hilarious.

Wasikowska doles out some home truths, dramatically useful but pushed, many shorter scenes seem odd like the snippet of conversation were just shoved in in order to add momentum to the plot.

I feel sorry for Ruffalo, his character is in effect the only one to lose out from the arch of the story. Moore gets the beats in her big speech perfectly.

Indeterminable final 10 minutes of the film as Wasikowska goes to college all to make the point that family is good and essential to your well being and you will miss them when you're not with them, even when it's hard work.

1.40 pm. It's over. The music is naff. I'm off for a run. Hopefully you've enjoyed my points, even if you don't always agree with them.


TomS said...

HA! No shame, my friend..I just thought you would do a great job reviewing it.
The streaming comments are fun... often mirroring my thoughts during the watching of the film.
I posted a review last July when we first had a chance to see it. I recognized some flaws, but I liked it as though it were a friend, so I overlooked them in return for the pleasure it provided me.

Jose said...

I feel it was slightly underwhelming, like it never "clicked", despite how awesome the performances were.

Runs Like A Gay said...

Hi Tom and Jose,

You both make very interesting points that seem to lie at the heart of the movie. It comes across as a friend, as someone you've known for years, but just the sort of friend who turns when they want to and doesn't explain why they haven't called for 6 months, or even ask what you've been doing. You want to like them so much more than you find you can...