Posts Tagged ‘the kids are all right’
I’ve been waiting for The Kids Are All Right to come out on DVD since I saw it this summer. I was ready to see it again, even right after I saw it the first time. I debated and deconstructed and philosophized and puzzled over the plot for a good solid week before I had various lightbulb moments and felt like I “got it,” like I understood what director Lisa Cholodenko was going for. (My thoughts on it culminated in this post on AfterEllen, The “Lesbian Sleeps With A Man” Trope in The Kids Are All Right.)
I’ve referenced this film many times since I saw it. Not just the characters or lines or this particular plot, but the affect Cholodenko has had on this trope, the way this film has gotten into our collective social consciousness, and the result—that the man is totally left out, that he has not spent years building a family, but that he was, in fact, practically irrelevant to the building of their family—will effect any future film that attempts to use this trope to invalidate lesbian identity. I think Cholodenko took that stereotype and ran with it so far and hard that it is kind of, well, over. I think it changed the landscape.
Regardless of whether or not you agree with me about that, it’s a beautiful film. It really is. If you’ve seen either of Cholodenko’s other films, like High Art or Laurel Canyon, you know her style of cinematography is stunning and unique. She’s a mainstream queer female director—on the masculine-of-center side of gender, I would argue—and this film depicts a lesbian relationship, women in love with each other, sincere emotions and care for the building of a family, overcoming hardship, all of those wonderful things that are so rarely depicted responsibly or artfully in a mainstream film.
It came out on November 16th. I can’t wait to see it again.
Here’s a nice clip from the bonus features on the DVD, where you can see many of the beautifully framed shots from the film as director Cholodenko discusses her relationship to the concept of “family:”
Here’s the blurb from the film, in case you were somehow under a rock all summer and missed the hours and days of discussion when it came out:
The Kids Are All Right stars Academy Award® nominees Annette Bening (American Beauty) and Julianne Moore (Boogie Nights). Nic (Bening) and Jules (Moore) are a suburban couple raising their two teens, Joni (Mia Wasikowska, Alice in Wonderland) and Laser (Josh Hutcherson, Journey to the Center of the Earth), in Southern California. But when the kids track down their “donor dad” Paul (Mark Ruffalo, Shutter Island), an unexpected new chapter begins for everyone as family ties are defined, re-defined and then re-re-defined.
The Kids Are All Right is on DVD and Blu-ray November 16th
It is really worth seeing. Annette Bening in particular is phenomenal, and I’m pretty excited to see her as Nic on screen again. I wish we could just crack a bottle of wine and sit up on the Hollywood sign and talk about girls until the bottle’s empty.
(Yes, clearly, I’m a sucker for glasses.)
I spent almost a week on this after I saw the film. It turned out to be a bit of an opus, about six pages long, and AfterEllen.com graciously told me they would run it.
Here’s a little teaser of my thoughts:
What if this depiction of that trope, of that storyline of lesbian-sleeps-with-a-man, is actually a step forward? It’s actually a step away from the old versions of this story? It’s something new. We haven’t actually seen this before. What if it’s a sign that we’re actually getting farther from this trope, rather than recreating it yet again?
Untangling that trope means entering into some grey areas, unseeing the black-and-white of this issue and looking at some of the larger contexts and contents; reigning in our own projections a little bit to consider this with fresh eyes, from a place of a beginner’s mind, without quite so much anger directed at this trope. I know that sounds like you have to give up your very warranted anger, but that’s not quite what I mean. It’s just having enough looseness to be able to allow new information to be observed, even if we already think we know exactly what we’re looking at.
Because that’s really the problem here, isn’t it? We hear “a film in which a lesbian sleeps with a guy” and we roll our eyes and get that disappointed, sinking stomach feeling, and we pretend that we aren’t disappointed in yet another depiction of us, of me, of my life, my legitimate love, my legitimate orientation, in a mainstream film that had so much potential, so we squish that potential and we squish that disappointment and we try to sound so damn smart about the wrong that is this film that we might actually miss the film itself, what it’s saying, and what it’s doing.
And go see this film. It is really beautiful.