Saturday, February 12, 2011

Oscar's Best Picture Nominee: The Kids are All Right
Starring: Annette Benning, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo
Directed by: Lisa Cholodenko
Produced by: Jeff Levy-Hinte, Gary Gilbert, Jordon Horowitz, Celine Rattray

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 94%

Synopsis: Nic and Jules has the perfect family: their daughter is going to college with academic honors on her back, finances are strong, and they are just plain happy-- but the thing is, Nic and Jules are a lesbian couple. Given there unconventional family structure, Nic struggles to keep her family together as their sperm donor enters the scene and tries to win the favors of her wife and her children.

In these times when the society's dealing with homosexuals are relatively tolerable compared to previous era, everything is not just about a question of whether one is straight or gay, it is also a question of love (I have taken this quote from the French Film Juste une question d'amour). Love, as it is right now, is about who one is and how she sees herself from within. Although the present society prefers heterosexual relationship, it is not that unusual for us seeing a girl and a girl kissing or two men walking hand in hand.

A homosexual relationship is not easy to maintain-- I for one is a witness to this situation. For one thing, you are judged to be immoral and deviant and so many embarrassing (and most often than not, insulting) names. For us homosexuals, we are still persecuted at a certain extent. It is hard to tell the world that you love another guy, much more to show the world how you love the guy. Another thing in homosexual relationship is about insecurities- jealousy doubles its own chance. The Kids are All Right  explores the insecurity a homosexual (for this case, a lesbian) deals with her insecurities while maintaining the family she built for the last 18 years of her life.

Conflict started when Nic (Annette Benning) and Jules's (Julianne Moore) children met the guy who artificially inseminated the lesbian couple. Paul (Mark Ruffalo) hangs out with the two children too much and become attached to one another, especially Laser who just found a father figure from Paul. Things became worse when Jules started sleeping with Paul. Annette Benning's attack on the keen observer physician lesbian character flows directly from the characters motivation. Every time you see her in the screen, you can always feel the aura of insecurity she feels when Paul is around. Two thumbs up for the character.

Watching it, it is hard to identify at first whether Nic is too insecure or Paul is meddling with the family affairs too much. In Nic's point of view, Paul is a virus invading her family. On the other hand, Paul grasps the chance to change his life by connecting with his biological children. The competition between the two is subtly intense because they are two person from the opposite poles: Nic is firm with the rules for her children, Paul is loose; Nic is critical towards  Jules while Paul appreciates Jules' talent. Nic's character is troubled enough- he is loud, annoying and hypercritical in every sense- but we are gladly walkthroughed by the script towards her inner frailty when it comes to keeping her family as close as possible. Towards the end Nic won my heart and sympathy as Paul proved himself in the wrong side of the track.

This movie tackles the idea of traditional family values despite the unconventional family setting that Nic and Jules have. Trust is of the essence, as in any other kind of relationship, and it takes time and effort to make a marriage work. The good thing about this movie is that its warm atmosphere all through out somewhat resembles the warm atmosphere that a family should have: where everybody is free to think, to love and to be oneself.

Other Oscar's Nomination
Best Actress- Annette Benning
Best Supporting Actor: Mark Ruffalo
Best Original Screenplay: Lisa Cholodenko. Stuart Blumberg

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