Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Kids are All Right

I know. Everyone else saw this movie last year. I just saw it Sunday night. I figured it wasn't one of those movies that you needed to see on the big screen. I was right about that, but now I want to talk about it and everyone else is like, "Eileen, that is so 2010."

BTW, this post will be positively BURSTING with SPOILERS. Alert. Alert. Alert.

Can I talk first about Annette Benning's face? OMG. She's beautiful. She appears to have resisted pressure to have plastic surgery. She looks so real and her emotions are so real on her beautiful real face. The scene at the dinner table when she realizes that her partner has been unfaithful to her and yet she has to endure the rest of the meal with her partner, her children and the man her partner is sleeping with? OMG. Amazing. Everything is on that face. She doesn't need to say a word. In fact, she doesn't.

I love that this family is essentially exactly where I am now. Two teenagers. Two adults trying to keep everything together. To be there for each other and for the kids and still find some level of self-actualization. The movie totally captured what that's like, right down to the fact that any house with teenagers in it can explode at any second. It just can. It's the way it is. They're crazy volatile and have a complete scorched earth policy. I have great sweet kids, but hand to God, it could go south any second. I've seen it. BTW, loved the way they handled the daughter leaving for college. She had to get that little snippet of rebellion in there before she left. Because they do need to. They have to separate from us. But she's still the same smart sweet loving kid she was.

It also captured how easy it is for two smart caring adults to lose their connection despite how much they love each other. I feel like I'm constantly fighting to keep from taking that step to where they are in this movie. I don't want to be Julianne Moore trying to control my partner's almost drinking problem or be the one with the problem who can't listen to what my partner's saying because I want that glass of wine that bad. The sex? That cracked me up, too. Who hasn't phoned it in here and there? Do that too often, though, and someone could end up doing Mark Ruffalo doggie-style in the middle of the afternoon.

Oh, and those moments when one or the other mom was totally tone deaf to what she was saying to her kid? I've heard that crap coming out of my own mouth. I know I'm screwing it up, but I can't help it. The thank you note thing? The one mom trying to be honest with the kid about sexuality and going oh, maybe a little too far, but maybe not and the other mom shutting her down. Okay. I guess it was always Annette Benning who was tone deaf.

So I loved loved loved this movie. I loved the people and the problems and the resolution at the end. It was a little like Molly's post about great reading experiences. I saw this movie at the exact right moment in my life.

Thanks. You may now all resume your previously scheduled 2011.


Maureen McGowan said...

I loved that movie too. So much. And you've reminded me why. So well acted. So real. And I loved how, although the inciting incident for the story was (kind of) related to the fact they were a gay couple, it really wasn't about their sexuality. They were just a family going through a crisis and coming out the other end, because of the strength of the bonds and love between them. Which were way bigger than the bond of shared DNA. You could have had that same story with a heterosexual couple who for whatever reason decided to use a sperm donor. Or adopted kids. Or whatever. (Although the different biological mothers, same biological father thing was cool.)

I love that Annette Benning hasn't done plastic surgery or botox (so that you notice) too. I really think aging women are so much more beautiful than the oddly stretched, paralyzed and or filled out women.

As my own skin starts to turn south, will I mourn my youthful skin? Yes. I'm sure I will. But please stop me from doing anything like that!

I was thinking the same thing about Julianna Moore when I just saw Crazy, Stupid Love. She's a tad younger than Benning, but it was so nice to see that (gasp) she could raise her eyebrows! And when she does, her forehead wrinkles. Awesome.

Eileen said...

Yes, yes, yes. It was about a family at a certain stage. One where they look stable, but there are little fissures that could become giant cracks if the right(wrong?) pressures are applied. Gay. Straight. Martian. Doesn't matter.

I have already started mourning my youthful skin and while I'm willing to drop some cash for a good moisturizers, I haven't quite been able to feel that injecting botulism is my face is worthwhile.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Eileen I also just recently saw this movie. Loved it. Love the authenticity of it.

Of course I identified a little with Mark's character. He's single, carefee, then all the sudden these kids show up and he's like yeah that's cool.

Easy breezy family, no work, no dealing with any of the hard stuff, you can just hang out. Kids would be easy that way wouldn't they?

Of course in the end he overreached but I like to think in the after part of the movie... he and the kids somehow worked it out and he was at their weddings.

Eileen said...

I actually thought he was going to start his own family and leave that one alone. I think he's totally going to marry the sexy vegetable girl.

I thought his character arc was interesting, though. What was it about what he was seeing that made him want to change his life that drastically? Was it seeing himself in these children as they became adults? Or was it the sense of connection? Cuz one side of that lets him stay pretty narcissistic and one side makes him a little more human . . .

Anonymous said...

When I grow up I want to be Annette Benning.... She inhabited that role perfectly and loved how she and Julianne Moore seemed like any old married couple.

Eileen said...

They really reminded me in ways of a lot of my friends (and okay of myself, too). The dynamics between them were exactly where most of us are. There's the ambitious breadwinner and the free spirit maternal dialectic. Then there was the permissive playful parent vs. the disciplinarian judging parent spectrum. Oh, and the partner who is self-disciplined in every way but one (the drinking!) and the partner who has next to now discipline in every other way.

I think it's why I was so relieved in the end that they could find a way to be together still (and the comment from the son about them being too old to split up was freaking priceless and was an echo of something my son said to me recently). It's not easy being middle-aged. Even when externals like having enough money and basically good kids are good, it's tough.

Yep. This movie totally spoke to me.

Molly O'Keefe said...

I loved this movie too and yes Annette Bening's face - amazing! And the scene when she sings and it's so honest and raw and real and THEN SHE FINDS OUT!!??

Mark Ruffalo - so good. Those kids - so good. Every little scene totally needed and perfect.

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