I only managed to see one woman directed film this week, but in all fairness with Out 1 taking over my weekend and then being sick a lot of the week I didn’t get to see many films at all this week. I will try to get these numbers up in future weeks, but this one film has given me plenty to write about.
The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko, 2010)
2011 was when my complete dedication to film began, so I ended up missing this one when it came out. In fact I had heard nothing about it and was surprised to look up its critical acclaim. I eagerly fired it up on Netflix in hopes of finding a gem.
I have mixed feelings about this film. I thought the premise was interesting: two children wanting to reach out to their biological father having been raised by their lesbian mothers. I thought that the majority of character interactions seemed genuine and the emotions real. I, however, can’t get over the fact that the major conflict in the film did not sit well with me. Needless to say, spoilers to follow.
Jules’s (Julianne Moore) affair with the sperm donner Paul (Mark Ruffalo) struck me as pure male fantasy from this woman written and directed film. The idea of a lesbian being enthralled with a man to the extent of having a physical affair with him is something that I would expect from and look down upon a male director. Now, Cholodenko did handle pieces of the affair well. Using it as a symptom of more personal relationship struggles was a welcome reasoning for the affair, but I still found myself having troubles accepting it.
Immediately after watching the film, I was confused as to what I was going to write about this film as a female directed film. I struggled to see what set this film apart from any of the other Sundancesque family dramedies. I think that my issues with the conflict may have blinded me to some of the female driven aspects. The movie’s actual purpose was to show the struggles of a marriage decades in, and in that it succeeds. I genuinely feel for Jules and Nic (Annette Bening). The struggles on their relationship feel like the outcome of years of living together. Using the affair as a metaphor for these problems instead of the actual issue was welcome, and really shows an understanding of the character’s feelings. I do think that this film has the potential to exist as a strong look into the personal lives of an under portrayed group, but I personally can’t get past the male fantasy of the major conflict.