i was impressed by lisa cholodenko’s the kids are all right. the film forces us to confront the pretenses under which we address and live with one another on a day-to-day basis as well as on deeper levels, raising questions of the roll of free will, chance, and personal choice. relationships are a vehicle through which to explore these timeless questions, and the relationships in the kids are all right are, like the era in which we live, nothing if not complicated.
the film blatantly exposes the difficulty and power of love through the frame of a solid, los angeles-based family headed by two beautiful, strong lesbians when it is shaken by the introduction of paul, the man who made their family possible by donating his sperm to both women. as paul enters—and becomes a larger and larger part of—the picture, relationships among the family members (mothers, daughter, and son) quickly become skewed, forcing the characters—and audience—to redefine their concepts of family. anyone who has ever experienced love, lust, family, or all three, will identify with these characters and their experiences, from shell-shocked heartache to first-time drunknness to the most potent of orgasms.
the film captivates everyday life and relationships in a post-postmodern world with exacting dialogue and allusions; in one striking scene, the exhausted mom nic launches into a tirade about how she just “can’t do it” (composting, hemp milk, organic heirloom tomatoes) anymore. in another, eighteen-year-old daughter joni admits to her biological dad her wish for him to be “better”—as she shuts her front door in his face. the film is perfectly current; its soundtrack fully supports nic's theory that alternative is the modern mainstream. meanwhile, the action that transpires suggests that maybe shutting doors in peoples’ faces doesn’t solve any problems and life, after all, goes on. best of all, though, is the way the characters' emotions transcend the screen, leading the audience to cringe, giggle, snicker, and maybe even cry a little. the timing of the scenes lends a depth to the characters that makes me believe in them - and us.