As I stepped into the cinema to watch this fantastic, sunny indie, I took a good look at the poster. This is touted as one of the best films of the year (Sight and Sounds November film of the month -no mean feat). And yet the poster shows nothing but a light-hearted, gentle film that won’t tax the brain-cells too much. But while there is a very sunny feel to the film, I think that there is something a lot more powerful hidden in here, waiting to get you when you least expect it.
Even as a teenage boy I recognised some of trials and daily ordeals of home life. It is in this look at the everyday life of a lesbian couple that the film excels: the point is never laboured, but it is always there. It doesn’t feel forced.
There has been talk of Oscars for Annette Bening’s excellent performance as Nic, the alcoholic housewife who slowly comes to realise that all is not as it seems with relaxed sperm donor Paul (played effectively by Mark Ruffalo) and her loyal partner, Jules (Julianne Moore, once again very good here). As the pieces of the puzzle get put together, she never lapses into melodrama. For what could be construed as something of a scattershot approach, or even being improvised, it is surprisingly tightly controlled -every line of dialogue having some purpose, every scene serving to advance the plot. And she excels in all of these scenes.
Despite the eponymous ‘kids’ each have their own subplots, neither of them fully develop to their peak. There was a particularly powerful moment with Josh Hutcherson and his ‘best friend’, which never really develops beyond a few scenes, and almost seems to get forgotten. The same goes for the sub-plot involving Mia Wasikowska, who has complicated issues with her non-boyfriend, and that seems also to be left dangling by a thread, then lost completely.
Yet the title, The Kids Are Alright, is backed up -the kids ARE alright, it’s the adults we should be worried about. The adults are left with the main brunt of the problems, and even they seem to reach a natural finale (despite taking some hard paths to get there).
This is actually an incredibly warm, happy film, and although it has some hard times (there is more than enough tragedy and pretty destructive moments, it is slightly reminiscent of kitchen sink drama in places), the ending is nice, pleasant, and leaves you with faith that the kids are alright, as well as the adults.
The plot, as with most indies, is more a collection of moments based in and around one event that provides an anchor to the film. And the ‘anchor’, so to speak, is that of Mark Ruffalo, the sperm donor whom the kids make the conscious decision to meet and get to know, particularly given that Wasikowska will be going of to college at the end of the summer. It allows for some ensemble moments that really shine.
Already the film has been called one of the best of the year, doing the indie circuit and picking up critical acclaim wherever it goes.
- Interesting, complete and bizarre: The World’s End review - July 25, 2013
- Leaden footed escapism in Pacific Rim - July 25, 2013
- Behind The Candelabra offers an insight into a fascinating relationship - June 17, 2013