I was whipped when I last saw The Kids Are All Right, or half of it, at last January’s Sundance Film Festival. It struck me as good enough — believably written, unaffected acting — but not levitational. I was in and out, waiting, checking my watch. I decided to duck out and catch another film I had to see.
I saw Kids again last night at the Clearview Cinemas, and this time to the finish. It went down pretty well! Not a great film but a much better one than I recall. (Being well rested makes a difference.) I don’t think it’s the Second Coming, but I’m giving it a B-plus for shaping and selling the story of a gay couple — played by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore — confronted with history and infidelity in a smart, likably middle-class way. With an honest third-act emotional payoff. It’s modest but genuine. I have no beef with it.
Bening has a Best Actress nomination in the bag, I think. Best Performance of a Neurotic, Controlling, Affluent, Red-Wine-Sipping Physician Lesbian by a straight actress in a long time. And Mia whatsername-with-the-nearly-unspellable-and-unpronouncable-Polish-name…okay, Wasikowska…is an exceptional off-pretty actress with a better role than she had in HBO’s In Treatment and a much better one than she had in Tim Burton‘s 3D borefest. And Mark Ruffalo is true and settled as “the sperm donor” — an engaging, easygoing L.A. resturateur who can’t keep it in his pants.
The Kids Are All Right is Lisa Cholodenko‘s best film ever, I feel. She’s a good filmmaker but she’s only hit line drives and doubles until now; this is her first triple.