They say that 40% of all marriages will end in divorce. This trend has also been seen onscreen, as so few movies depict a strong, healthy marriage relationship. Instead we’re treated to movies that skirt the issue altogether; a girl power movie here, an action comedy there, wrapped up in a 3D bow to make everything look better. In The Kids Are All Right, filmmaker Lisa Cholodenko has taken the task upon herself to make a movie that realistically depicts marriage in our modern day society. This marriage just happens to involve two women.
Annette Bening and Julianne Moore are Nic and Jules, a couple just like any other with two children, Joni (Mia Wasikowska) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson). Nic is the stricter parent and the breadwinner of the family, while Jules is a stay-at-home mom and more lenient with the children. When Joni turns 18, her brother Laser asks her to track down their biological father and sperm donor. This man just happens to be sexy, laid back Paul (Mark Ruffalo) who owns his own restaurant and rides a motorcycle.
There is tension in the household already with two teenage kids – one of whom is about to go off to college – but the marriage is tested when Joni, Laser, and Jules begin spending more and more time with Paul. Nic feels betrayed, like he is taking over her family. She isn’t jealous of him, just jealous of the time with her family that she is losing. Jules, being the mom at home with several failed career attempts, enjoys spending time with Paul because he appreciates her artistic abilities.
It is here that Cholodenko shows so masterfully the trials that marriages can be put through. Nic is a tad overbearing, and even though she doesn’t mean to, she talks down to Jules. Whether it’s subconscious or because Jules is the homemaker and doesn’t bring in any income is beside the point. Jules is doing the best job that she knows how in raising the children and keeping up with the house. She tries to make money on the side with various projects, but most of the time she fails. Whatever she does though, she makes sure to be supportive and encouraging of Nic in her career.
Even though the two are doing what they think is their best, Nic feels betrayed and Jules is feeling appreciated by Paul. They love each other and are committed to each other, but they don’t feel it. In marriage, commitment outlasts feelings. Feelings of being appreciated by one person over being appreciated by your spouse happen all the time, to everyone. Nic and Jules are every married couple in a difficult spot. Their commitment to each other is shown through their emotional outbursts and their tearful fighting. They want to work out their problems. Their commitment to each other is also shown through their accomplishments, like dropping off their successful daughter at college, and through their love for both of their children. But the kids aren’t the only ones who are all right. Nic and Jules are too, because their commitment is shown through their willingness to make each other a priority.
Annette Bening and Julianne Moore deserve Oscar nominations for their roles in The Kids Are All Right, both perfectly emulating the two most common roles in a marriage. Lisa Cholodenko deserves an Oscar nomination for her perfect screenplay, co-written with her friend Stuart Blumberg, that says everything that everyone wanted to say about marriage but was too afraid to put it onscreen. The Kids Are All Right is one of the best depictions of marriage in cinema – gay, straight, or whatever – and one of the best movies of the year.
The film’s DVD transfer is enjoyable but nothing spectacular. The video and audio quality were both standard.
The Journey To Forming A Family -Director Lisa Cholodenko talks about how they wanted to make the family seem real, not too sweet. (4:37)
The Making Of The Kids Are All Right – This was more like an extended trailer, complete with music in the background and featuring interviews with the cast and writer/director. (3:10)
The Writer’s Process – This was the most enjoyable and informative extra on the DVD. It features Lisa and Stuart talking about how they came up with the idea for the script, and their adventures while writing together. (2:30)
Feature Commentary with Lisa Cholodenko
Trailers – Somewhere, Charlie St. Cloud, Despicable Me
For one of my favorite movies of the year, I would have liked to see more in-depth extras and perhaps a commentary with the whole family. That would have been more entertaining to listen to than just Cholodenko by herself. She does have some great insight, but it’s really not too exciting to listen to. Still, The Kids Are All Right is highly recommended; it’s one of the best films of 2010 and one of the best, most realistic depictions of marriage in cinema history.
Focus Features presents The Kids Are All Right. Directed by: Lisa Cholodenko. Starring: Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson, Mark Ruffalo. Written by: Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg. Running time: 107 minutes. Rating: R. Released on DVD and Blu-ray: November 16, 2010.
Tags: annette bening, Josh Hutcherson, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, The Kids Are All Right