It’s funny how you can stumble across films. I don’t think I would ever have watched The Kids Are All Right if I didn’t have a keen interest in the work of Mark Ruffalo. And that came about because I had recently watched Zodiac where he played Inspector David Toschi and felt he gave such a brilliant performance in that supporting role, I wanted to find out what else he had appeared in (this is before the recent release of The Avengers by the way, where he had a much higher profile part, playing the role of Dr Bruce Banner).
So I googled him (Interesting isn’t it how ‘googled’ has come to be the word most commonly used for ‘search engine’, even though it’s a brand name. A bit like how people use the word ‘hoover’ for vacuum cleaning, ‘sellotape’ for any general clear adhesive tape and ‘thatcher’ for someone who renovates the roof of an old English cottage whilst wearing a blue suit and spouting vitriol about ‘Scargill and those bleeding miners’).
Mark Ruffalo had been in a few films of interest to me. He had appeared in Shutter Island, a Martin Scorsese film that I had yet to see. Further down the list I noticed ‘The Kids Are All Right’. Knowing that it was the title of a song by The Who, I wondered if the film was some sort of rock themed drama. I read the plot summary.
Ah, okay. Two lesbians, in a relationship, have had two children by an anonymous sperm donor. Now the children are teenagers and want to track down their biological father.
Right. Sounds like my kind of film.
I rented a copy from my local library and settled down to watch it. The other leading actress was Annette Bening, whom I hadn’t watched in a movie since The Grifters, which I had watched in the late eighties.
It turned out that this film had a lot of heart and was funnier than I was expecting. The comedic moments were well judged and balanced by a beautifully realised and heart-warming story. It not only dealt with the relationship of the two parents (Julianne Moore and Annette Bening) but also their children, a son played by Josh Hutcherson and a daughter played by the deliciously beautiful Mia Wasikowska. The fact their parents are lesbians leads to some humorous observational moments, but principally, the story is about parenthood, love and betrayal. Mark Ruffalo, as the children’s father, gives a wonderfully laid back, laconic performance and his first meeting with his biological children is a wonderful set-piece with several guaranteed laughs.
Also, to my immense delight, there is a Joni Mitchell soundtrack. Specifically, there is a scene at a dining table where all the main characters, one by one, begin chatting about Joni Mitchell and begin singing her classic song All I Want – which ends in another poignant moment.
So, if you have an interest in lesbians, donating sperm and Joni Mitchell, then this is the film for you. I highly recommend it.