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Back when "The Kids Are All Right" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, it was heralded by critics as a refreshingly topical take on the domestic drama.
And that's exactly what it is.
A warmly funny story of a suburban Los Angeles couple with two teens who long to meet their biological father, this indie breakout screams conventional at first glance. What sets the film apart? The parents are played by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore - yep, two women.
Rather than make a heavy-handed case for gay rights, Lisa Cholodenko's film deals with its subject matter in much subtler ways, simply showing life as it is for this unconventional family. In doing so, Cholodenko goes to show how such families are not all that "unconventional" in the end.
The film serves as a showcase for Moore and Bening, who both stand up to the challenge by turning in hilarious and deeply affecting performances. Bening especially, as the wine guzzling, mega uptight Nic, nearly walks away with the film by making a volatile character deeply humane, and therefore relatable. It's no wonder she's being touted by pundits as a front-runner for this year's Best Actress Oscar race.
That's not to discount the supporting performances, headed by Mark Ruffalo as the grizzly and suave surrogate father. Ruffalo's scenes with Moore's freewheeling character Jules are a hoot due to their easygoing chemistry, and the bond he develops with his kids (played by Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson) is made palpable by Ruffalo's surprising vulnerability.
The script by Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg is brisk, breezy and poignant when it needs to be. So is the film. Anchored by terrific performances and a great soundtrack, "The Kids Are All Right," goes down easy, but packs a punch.
Extras! Included on both the DVD and Blu-ray is "The Journey to Forming a Family," which chronicles Cholodenko's five-year journey of bringing her film to the screen; a making-of special; feature commentary with Cholodenko; and a look into the writing process of "The Kids Are All Right."