I had the recent good fortune of hosting a couple of lesbian friends as holiday house guests. It was the perfect opportunity to experience first hand what my friend Felix and I have come to call Lesbionics. What is Lesbionics? Well, it's the unique way in which lesbians communicate and react to the world. The speech. The academic ideals. The whip-smart humor. The body language. The drama.
If you don't have lesbian friends to introduce you to the joys of Lesbionics, then I highly recommend The Kids Are All Right from director Lisa Cholodenko. There's all the humor, intellect, and drama you expect from lesbians. And you get a great love story to boot.
First, let's get this out of the way. Annettte Bening and Juliane Moore are really good in this movie with performances that approach perfection. And Mark Rufallo is fantastic as the young sperm donor turned middle-aged bachelor/organic gardener/restauranteur. Even Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson who play the teenage children of Bening and Moore turn in some pretty impressive performances.
This movie does something that not many movies are even willing to consider. Instead of focusing on the wonder of new love, this film explores the demands of maintaining a relationship over decades. And it does it in a way that suggests a non-traditional family can be surprisingly average which turns out to be a reassuring sentiment.
I enjoyed the way The Kids Are All Right takes a non-traditional relationship and blankets it in the trappings of the everyday. The normalness of family dinners. The kids leaving for college. The nighttime chats in the bedroom. The obligatory on-the-town dinners with friends. It all points to the boredom that can set in when couples spend a lifetime together. And boredom can lead to some heartbreaking situations.
My 2010 Sundance experience just keeps getting better. It started off a little lame but it has redeemed itself. This is the best movie I've seen so far. The scene near the end, with Annette Bening on the couch surrounded by her kids, and Julianne Moore apologizing for her mistakes is just plain wonderful.
I'm not going to finish this post in celebration of Lesbionics. Instead, I'm going to celebrate all those couples, gay or straight, who live normal, everyday, try-and-raise-the-kids-right lives. I'm a little bit jealous.