Aug 012010

Two teenaged children conceived by artificial insemination get the notion to seek out their birth father and introduce him into the family life that their two mothers have built for them. Once the donor is found, the household will never be the same, as family ties are defined, re-defined, and then re-re-defined.

Genres: Drama; Running Time: 1 hr. 44 min.; Release Date: July 9th, 2010 (limited); MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some teen drug and alcohol use.

Starring: Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson

Directed by
: Lisa Cholodenko
We went to see this movie last night out at Brandon. The theater wasn’t nearly packed, but there was a decent crowd. Unfortunately, two adult women sitting just behind us felt compelled to have a conversation throughout the entire movie. Besides that, we both felt this was a great movie, with one major criticism.

The critics seem to universally like this film, and they are right on this one! This movie is brilliantly written and beautifully acted/directed. Lay and me laughed so hard (together with all other audience members) most of the time but yet I teared up during the emotional moments. And leaving the theaters, I resonated a lot with the story and actually felt a bit more hopeful and positive and had a smile on my face. Performance wise, I just love love Bening’s performance!! But it is an ensemble piece and all cast members did a great job!

In Lisa Cholodenko’s heartwarming picture, Annette Bening and Julianne Moore play Nic and Jules, a happily married couple. They have two kids, Joni and Laser, played by Alice in Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska and Zathura’s Josh Hutcherson. The two were born from artificial insemination, both coming from the same father. Joni has just turned 18, and therefore, is legally able to make the call to find out who their biological father is, something she is reluctant to do. She ends up making the call, and low and behold, their father is a mellowed-out, semi-hippie, organic farmer / restaurant owner named Paul, played with fantastic style by Mark Ruffalo. The audience instantly clings to Paul’s charm.

Things get complicated when the kids want to meet with Paul more than once and Paul begins to become a fixture in all of their lives, throwing off the balance. One thing leads to another to another, and all hell breaks loose, twisting and churning our emotions.

Bening and Moore were splendid in their roles, making their relationship feel very real and sympathetic. You couldn’t help but pull for them as the story unfolded. The bittersweet scenes with the kids played very real to me; especially one scene near the end where the sister leaves for college. That was supported marvelously by Mia Wasikowska (whose name is wonderfully, ethnically correct, BTW) who looks like she may be around for awhile; there’s talent in there. They didn’t give Josh Hutcherson a lot to do that would have been a challenge at all, but he didn’t disappoint. In the end, the real focus here was the pair of Bening and Be Moore. As many critics have pointed out, this story is a very real depiction of a family, and the makeup of that family isn’t the story.

The major complaint, shared by both of us, is there are several very graphic sexual scenes (not involving lesbian sex surprisingly). I’m no prude about it, but it distracted from the flow of the movie taking too much time, and just wasn’t necessary to advance the story. The sexual episodes were important to the story, but they could have been shown in the usual way of showing the beginning and the end of the sex, and moving on to the next scene.

Be forewarned about the sexual content, but otherwise, it’s a great movie.

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