Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Lesbians Are All Right

I know there is concern, and understandably so, that lesbian director Lisa Cholodenko's new film, The Kids Are All Right, includes a plot twist involving a lesbian (Julianne Moore) sleeping with her sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo). I have not seen the film, which is not released until July 9, but I have to say that I'm not going to get my bikini briefs in a bunch over this.

First of all, I'm willing to give Cholodenko the benefit of the doubt on the integrity of the lesbian credibility of this film because
the writer/director of High Art and Laurel Canyon has an impressive track record.  Cholodenko is sort of the Nancy Meyers of lesbian film. But edgier because she is, after all, a dyke. She is brilliant at capturing—creating, I suppose, is a better term—mood, culture, and the influence of place. The place in her latest film, as it was in Laurel Canyon, is California. The golden, barefoot, wine-infused, faded T-shirt kind of California you imagine when Joni Mitchell sings. In fact, Cholodenko has said that Mitchell's Ladies of the Canyon was an aesthetic influence on Laurel Canyon. And Mitchell is very much present in this latest film: The daughter is named Joni, and a duet of All I Want (~I wanna make you feel free~) is sung by Annette Bening and Ruffalo.

Secondly, from what I can see, Julianne Moore and Annette Bening portray a realistic (if, granted, unusually good looking) lesbian couple who are in a real, in-depth, long-term relationship. How often do you see that on film? Seldom. So let's welcome this. Cholodenko, 46, has been around the block, and so when she describes her choice to build an otherwise conventional family around two women as a "radical gesture," I think we should give her some credit. It is indeed a radical gesture in Hollywood.

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