Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

This year hasn’t seen a ton of best picture hopefuls. I can think of a few–Inception will probably get a nod, as will the tear-jerking final installment of Pixar’s Toy Story trilogy. Another one sure to pop up on the list is The Kids Are All Right, starring Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, and Mark Ruffalo.

The story is fairly straightforward: Nic and Jules, a lesbian couple who each had a child using the same sperm donor, find their relationship with one another and with their teenage kids tested when their oldest daughter contacts the man who anonymously donated his genetic material.

Director and co-writer Lisa Cholodenko (Laurel Canyon, High Art) does a fantastic job of channeling the incredible acting talent at her fingertips, pulling intensely human and altogether unforgettable performances from all three lead actors, but from Annette Bening in particular, who is somehow both unlikeable and extremely sympathetic as the de facto head of her family. Not since American Beauty has Annette Bening demonstrated her considerable acting chops with such gusto.  Mia Wasikowska is no slouch either as the teenage daughter Joni. Most movie-goers will recognize her as Alice from Tim Burton’s romp down the rabbit hole, Alice and Wonderland. She shows considerable maturity here and is definitely someone to watch.

Absorbing from beginning to end, The Kids Are All Right explores what it means to be a family, and further reminds that being a mother or a father is entirely different from being a parent.  Count on spending an hour or two after the film grabbing a bite to eat and discussing the experience. No matter what your point of view, the film will leave you with something to talk about.

The Kids Are All Right is rated R and is 112 minutes.