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Reviews @ The Kids Are Alright

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Via The Guardian

*This Post Contains Spoilers*

A lesbian duo of Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, a young Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson playing their kids and a sperm donor in the form of Mark Ruffalo – what more could you want from a romantic comedy? It was refreshing to have LGBT characters at the centre of the narrative without the film feeling like an LGBT film. Usually the films that have gay or lesbian narratives as the main driving force behind the film have some kind of sexual crisis. One only has to name a few. The teacher student relationship in Loving Annabelle, the morality of Oliver and Elio’s relationship in Call Me By Your Name, the affair in Imagine Me & You. Lisa Cholodenko (both director and screenwriter) gives us a family dynamic that isn’t odd because of the sexual dynamic. The involvement of well known actors helps that representation; we’ve seen them in heterosexual family dynamics, so why should this be any different?

However, that being said, there was a feeling between the couple that there was something missing. Just as their son was confused as to why they watch ‘films’ that focus on gay men, I’m guessing the audience also felt like there was something amiss. Although it provides a comical element to the narrative (this is a romantic comedy after all) in the subtext it felt like they were missing something. Although this doesn’t become an issue until Jules and Paul fall into bed together. Here we are given full insight into messy sheets, sweaty adulterers and very enjoyable sex. Compare that to our perspective of Nic and Jules’ relationship where a duvet covers what seems to be a very unenthusiastic attempt at pleasure, there is definitely something Jules’ gets from Paul that she doesn’t from Nic. Passion, desire… I’m hoping it’s not that he has a penis (although Jules’ reaction to his anatomy would suggest otherwise)

The important element of the narrative however is that the kids are alright. The ending indeed provides that. The two women come back together to move their daughter to college and Paul is completely removed from their lives. Although he does provide a very masculine interruption between the couple, he is only an interruption, Jules completely rejects his offer of a heteronormative family life when she hangs up on his ramblings. Joanie and Laser love their parents just the same way they did before they met their biological ‘father’ and we are left with the assumption that Nic and Jules are going to figure out their relationship. The happy ending that every romantic comedy needs.

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3 Comments »

    • I also found it hard to get past, but I always like to see a film through. An unrequited fantasy would have been an interesting conception, and I think fit better into the narrative (as he wanted to settle down, have kids etc) I was also disappointed as the director herself is gay, and so you would expect maybe a greater understanding. I think privileging the phallus (especially as related to the male and masculine) is embedded in society (phallagocentrism, a theory by Derrida) it’s unfortunate that it even emerges in films that try to challenge gender boundaries

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