Sunday, 21 November 2010

The Kids Are All Right

I laughed, I cried (not really), I was thoroughly entertained. This is a solid comedy and about lesbians no less! Wow, did I ever think I'd see the day when a film about lesbians would make it into the (albeit arthouse) mainstream? I am a fan of Lisa Cholodenko's other films High Art and Laurel Canyon. But whereas Cholodenko's other movies are interested in the relationship between the surface of things and the twilight zone below, this movie stays rigorously above the water line. Don't get me wrong, I like the film in a superior made-for-tv-movie kind of way but wish I had seen it on an airplane instead of at the London Film Festival. Whenever I bring my objections to the film up among friends and acquaintances (of the left-leaning kind, the right-leaning kind having not even consciously registered the existence of the movie), I am almost immediately asked if I have any gay friends. So let me just state once and for all Filmfatale's Gay Credentials: Some of my best friends are gay! So here is my greatest objection to the movie: THE SEX. Though there are many sex scenes, some rather hot, there is not one viable sex scene between the two lesbians. The couple--excellently played by straight women extraordinaires Annette Bening and Julianne Moore--like to launch their foreplay with gay male porn, a hilarious scene, full of oily male torsos, but then Annette and Julianne disappear under the blankets and that's it! Mark Ruffalo (also excellent, as are the kids) has great, steamy, and graphic sex with his hot African-American goddess of an employee and then with adorable-femme Julianne Moore fulfilling two standard white male fantasies. But what about the lesbian audiences or the straight women even??? We're probably 99% of the audience! But when did that ever matter. Once again our gaze is irrelevant, especially if the movie wants to make it into the big leagues. Aargh. Other objections: It's totally unrealistic that the family had no lesbian friends. They seem to live in complete isolation from the gay community, and so very fearful (though humorously so) that their son might be gay. The only friends we do see are a very heterosexual couple. Which brings me to my next niggle. Did Annette and Julianne's relationship have to be such a straightforward copy of the typical upper-middle-class heterosexual couple? Couldn't the writers/director have given us just a bit more complexity? Yes, of course, we all strive towards normalizing ourselves to middle class values, even lesbians, but it's never as easy or as plain as all that. Lisa Cholodenko's fine comedy opted for mainstreaming over plumbing the depths.

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