¨Marriage is hard…sometimes, you know, you`re together for so long, that you just stop seeing the other person. You just see weird projections of your own junk.¨
Many people may go into this movie expecting to see a feel good film about two lesbians, but it is actually a movie about marriage and the difficulties that this entices. This is one of the best family dramas of the decade, and it also has a good dose of comedy as well. I really enjoyed this film. At the beginning it felt sort of awkward, but as we get to know each member of the family we identify some elements with our own family. Why does this film work so well? First of all the entire cast in this film is excellent. It is very difficult for me to point out one person because everyone in this film is brilliant. The performances felt so real and natural and even the kids were more than all right, they were great in this film. Director Lisa Cholodenko also did a terrific job with the direction despite not receiving an Oscar nomination in that category. However the Academy made up for it by giving her a Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay nod. After the excellent performance from the cast, I think the best thing about this movie was the screenplay which Cholodenko co-wrote with Stuart Blumberg (The Girl Next Door and Keeping the Faith). The screenplay is sharp and has some very witty dialogue in it as well. The characters are very well developed and they avoided the classical Hollywood stereotypes. The family is unconventional, but we can relate to some of the things they go through and clichés are avoided very well.
Nic (played by Annette Bening) is a physician who has an apparently happy life alongside her wife Jules (Julianne Moore) and their two kids Laser (Josh Hutcherson) and Joni (Mia Wasikowska who recently played Alice in Tim Burton`s Alice in Wonderland). When I say that they live an apparently happy life it`s not because there is anything wrong with them, but they do struggle through the regular issues any other family does. Nic seems to be a little of a control freak and tries to control Jules and her kids, they get along pretty well, but they seem to be going through a sort of mid life crisis. Jules is currently unemployed although she wants to begin a landscape design business. Joni has just turned 18, she`s a very smart girl and is getting ready for college, while Laser is a great athlete who is curious about meeting his father. Nic and Jules both used the same sperm donor in order to get pregnant with Joni and Laser. Since Laser is only 15 he is not legally old enough to ask for the information at the clinic so he gets Joni to do it for him. The kids secretly arrange a meeting with their sperm donor, Paul (Mark Ruffalo), who is in his late thirties and owns an organic restaurant and garden. Paul is a cool guy who wants to meet the kids and they get along pretty well. At the beginning it`s awkward for them, but they get to know each other and want to continue their relationship, although it ends up complicating things in the long run as Paul infiltrates their lives.
Lisa Cholodenko manages to balance pretty well the drama with the comedy. There are very emotional and tense situations, but there are also very funny moments like when Jules and Nic (or as the kids call them: the ¨moms¨) want to know if Laser is gay because he hangs out so much with his buddy. The cast was so good that it`s impossible for me to single out one performance in this film. Annette Bening was great as Nic and she deserves her best actress nomination, but I don`t see how she is the main character and Mark Ruffalo only got a nomination for best supporting actor. I think he has almost as much screen time as either one of the moms. And why not nominate Julianne Moore as well? She was equally as good as the rest of the cast. The movie is just terrific and the actors had great material to work with. When Ruffalo`s character showed up in this film and complicated things for the family the movie really began to pick up and I found myself enjoying it even more. The movie is not about two lesbians being discriminated so that we feel sorry for them, but rather about marriage itself and the everyday complications any family faces in life. This is a family where each member loves each other very much, but they make stupid decisions which end up hurting those people they love the most and that is something many marriages can identify with. Overall I think this was a great film and probably will be on my top ten list for 2010.