Full disclosure: We wrote this before the Oscar nominations were announced. Also, we have nothing to do with the Academy. Except when it comes to snarky fashion commentaries.
Miriam: When Ellyn and I were first brainstorming for this blog, one of the first ideas I brought up was The Kids Are All Right. Then by the time we actually launched the blog, the movie was out of theaters and Ellyn hadn’t seen it and well… now it’s Oscar season. And it’s timely again. And we finally have our excuse to write about it.
Movies don’t make me cry very often. Correction: good movies don’t make me cry very often. Crappy, sappy rom-com movies often make me cry but that’s because I have some weird inner girl somewhere inside who doesn’t get out very often. But when I saw The Kids Are All Right back in August, I sobbed from the moment the daughter overheard Julianne Moore and Annette Bening arguing over the former’s affair with Mark Ruffalo to the very end of the movie–and then some.
I don’t often talk about, or even think about, the day when I was fourteen and my father told me he had an affair. Because I love my father, and today we get along very well, and because what my parents’ divorce has come to signify for me over the years has so little to do with that incidental detail. I might even say that, until I saw The Kids Are All Right, I had forgotten what it felt like to be that child, aware of such a huge rift between her parents, one that nobody is quite sure how to fix (if it can be fixed). And how much that moment changes you, even if you can’t possibly understand it at the time, or even years later.
Ellyn: I finally saw this movie via Netflix, and I had to watch it twice to figure out what made it so good. It’s not really a movie about a lesbian couple who have issues when their kids bring the sperm donor into the picture. Or that is the situation, but really this movie is about postmodern family and marriage, which is what makes it so universal. You find yourself sympathizing with basically every main character: the cheater, the deceived, the outsider, and, for me, especially the kids stuck in the middle trying to figure out where their sympathies lie.
This movie makes you remember what it was like to see your parents as human for the first time, when you realize it’s a lot more complicated than you thought and that your parents are a little more messed up than you knew. It’s scary to realize that no one really has it all figured out. We’re all just learning lessons and taking it a day at a time. One line in the movie is, “Marriage is hard…sometimes you stop seeing the other person.” I think that’s true whether it’s two friends, a couple, or a child/parent relationship. You take each other for granted, but in the end you have to learn forgiveness and realize that your family is more important than your selfish whims.
Miriam: Much of the talk about The Kids Are All Right has centered around its core lesbian relationship, non-traditional family ethics, the brilliance of Julianne Moore and Annette Bening. And not to discredit any of the above, but for me, more than anything else, it was the writing that stood out. Because the writing was the core of the storytelling, and so the writing was the very best kind of storytelling, because it brought emotions in the viewer that the viewer didn’t know existed or forgot.
Writing is often a selfish thing. Or maybe a better word is self-indulgent. The point is, we writers often do it for ourselves, laud and validate ourselves doing it. But what makes writing important to the rest of the world–whether it’s a blog, book, movie, or TV show–is when it hits on something important for the reader or viewer and raises thoughts or questions that hadn’t been provoked before.
So that’s why we hope The Kids Are All Right wins the Oscar. That and we have the hots for Mark Ruffalo.