The Ugly Truth About Why the Kids are All Right

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The Ugly Truth About Why the Kids are All Right

straight/extra or extra-marital sex scene, is also Cholodenko's way of saying F*ck You to Hollywood: you ain’t gettin’ any. Who winds up being hyper-spectacularized? Not the lesbians. Withholding visibility can be a powerful political act. Whether this is a satisfactory move is no doubt up for debate. But in any case, our point is simply that in the dialogue between Moms and Laser, Cholodenko makes it clear that she is acutely aware of the audience’s desire for representations of hot lesbian sex, as well as the history of lesbian sex in pornography, and the pitfalls of repeating that history in mainstream cinema.

2. Lesbians, like anyone, can look like shit when they’re depressed.

Of course it's always great to see Julianne Moore glammed up. But wouldn't that have seemed a bit weird given how utterly abject her character is? Ok she didn't have to be a washed up, granola-hippy love child. (But ouch. How many of us—especially those of you on the west coast—know at least one lesbian like her?) More importantly, Cholodenko's trenchant point about the fantasies of reproductive coupling—the difficulty of maintaining a relationship where both (where all) people are equally happy with their own lives, as well as equally happy with each other—can, but should not be lost.  Are lesbians superheroes who are naturally better at coupling? Surely Nic and Jules were once a hot-to-trot lesbian success story, and we all love those.

But in the scene at the wine bar where Jules finally asserts to Nic that she relinquished her ambition for Nic's paternalistic security, we are offered a crushing sense of what has been eroded over years and years through the trials of domesticity, and in an effort to stabilize the couple form. It's not a zero-sum game exactly. It’s  more like what is gained is divided by what is lost, and what is kept owes something to what is added, and so on. In other words: It's complicated, folks! And The Kids are All Right reminds us that the couple form, especially the reproductive couple form, is often not malleable enough to admit these other algebras of affect, attachment and even ambition.

3. Families suck. Even (especially) queer families suck, despite their best intentions.

“Families We Choose” can be the worst families of all, because

Comments [5]

Fillyjonk's picture

It's nice to see a sensible,

It's nice to see a sensible, thoughtful analysis of this movie...

I thought the backlash the film faced was incredibly over-zealous- regardless of one's opinion of the story or political subtext, it was still an intelligent and interesting drama. It's unjustifiable for the gay community to react with untempered hatred to something with these sorts of basic credentials. We need MORE mainstream queer films which are textured, subtle and multilayered- so please God, let's not shout them down on the rare occasions that they come along!

Robin Rigby's picture

A balanced review. If

A balanced review. If somewhat too dense for me to proces in my current, mildly drunken state. 

I decided to screen this film as part of my lesbian film group last year. We did it in conjunction with Family Matters, the gay parenting group at the LGBT center. I wanted to screen it particularly because of the mixed (and quite vocal) reactions it had received. Personally, I found it occasionally humorous, sometimes uncomfortable, and very flawed on a story level- one that has nothing to do with it's lesbian content. 

FYI, I liked Cholodenko's Laurel Canyon, I am not a fan of High Art

Joanne Robertson's picture


a thoughtful, balanced analysis of this film.  What a relief.

The collective lost their faculties over this movie.  What annoyed me during this time was how many lesbian sheeple proudly declared they hadn't seen the film, but hated it, and had no intention of seeing it, because a few prominent lesbians (some of whom also hadn't yet seen it) had flamed about the storyline.

Some declared they will boycott Cholodenko's future work.  It was a typical "throw the baby out with the bathwater" response, not unlike with Chaiken & her L Word brand.

Marcie Bianco's picture

true that, JR -- lesbians

true that, JR -- lesbians really do eat their own. ... so mean ... why is that?

Joanne Robertson's picture

Well, it's easy

to take everything personally - this may have something to do with swimming in such an incestuous little fishbowl... even online.

In terms of how we hold 'our' writers/directors to such a high standard, we just have to get over this notion that everything they put out there is representing us as a "community".  An impossible standard, since they're usually writing about individuals - flawed characters, or filming real life flawed humans for reality tv. 

I no longer hand-wring about how heteros are perceiving this or that in a storyline.  It's very freeing lol