Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"The Kids are All Right" -- a review

I've just come from seeing the new film with Annette Bening, "The Kids are All Right," and for anyone (like myself) who ever questioned Bening's talent as an actor, you should go to see this film just to find out how wrong you are. She was terrific!

The writing was crisp, and the concept fresh. The script could have lost ten pages, but the character development made up for and, apart from one or two vexing stereotypes like when the son is told "It would have been better if you were gay; you'd be more sensitive," it was quite credible, if predictable.

Remarkably, and importantly, the acceptance with which a familial relationship between two same sex characters by the theatre audience was in itself an accomplishment. Aside from the comment of a woman sitting a few seats down from me, "oh my god----moms!," people in the suburban theatre where the film was shown seemed nonplussed to find that the movie was about a lesbian couple, and that they had the same issues, and difficulties raising teenagers, as any other couple would.

Yes, of course, there are some who might complain about the inevitability of one of the women, Jenna, falling for a man, but to even make a movie as explicit as this one thirty, or ten years ago would have been impossiible.

And, then, of course, there's always the matter of whether one really cares about what happens to either of the women characters, and their relationship. The short answer is "no." One cares more about the kids which explains the title, and this movie affirms the conclusions of a recent study that says the progeny of lesbian couples turn out more "well-adjusted" than others. Whatever "well-adjusted" means. In the context of this film, one infers that it means going off to college, and indulging in sports. There is no attempt to challenge the facile way in which "normalcy" is viewed, and how families who divert from the traditional husband/wife model actually contribute something unique and different to the dialogue.

Frankly, as an afficionada of gay male porn, I, too, was a bit baffled to find a lesbian couple watching it as were the hyenas next to me who talked nonstop. Indeed, human sexuality is complex, even though one sensed this film ultimately over-simplified it, but what do you want, this isn't Ingmar Bergman, it's Hollywood.

More importantly, one was engaged throughout, again despite the implausibility factor. One would think that having an affair of that magnitude with anyone, regardless of the gender, would transform a character in ways that make it impossible for her to go back to life as it was. Ibsen's "A Doll's House" it wasn't, but I highly recommend it for the acting, directing, and the script. The editing could have been better---it was a bit slow.