Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sydney Film Festival: The Kids are All Right

Who wouldn’t want Annette Bening (American Beauty) and Julianne Moore (Children of Men) for mothers? Writer/director Lisa Cholodenko (Lauren Canyon) brings this perfect pairing to reality in a tender, honest and wonderfully funny portrait of a modern family. Fastidious medico Nic (Bening) and her more free spirited partner Jules (Moore) have been together for decades and have each born a child using the same donor sperm. This happy, loving and suitably idiosyncratic family is disrupted when 18-year-old Joni (Mia Wasikowska) succumbs to her younger brother Laser’s (Josh Hutcherson) wishes to track down their biological father, Paul (Mark Ruffalo).

Domesticity, sexuality and the ‘pleasures’ of parenthood are all depicted with frank humour and humanity, both through Cholodenko’s beautifully warm and wry script and in the perfectly cast performances. Bening and Moore are luminous together, able to nitpick as easily as cherish, while Ruffalo’s awkward timing is spot on and Wasikowska can do angsty teen better than anyone in the business. The broader context of what must be the first-generation of homosexual couples raising a family is noted within the film, but does not get in the way of what is essentially a superbly grounded and touchingly candid look at love. Indeed the irony of the film’s title soon becomes evident, where Joni and Laser’s coming of age is far less tumultuous than Nic and Jules’ attempts to navigate their relationship, or Paul coming to terms with the man and the potential father he now longs to be.

Published by Street Press Australia
Australian release date (theatrical): 2 September 2010

***Update: To read David Edelstein's fabulous review in New York Magazine, click HERE.
***Ditto Dana Stevens' review (and Spoiler Special!) on Slate.

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