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The women are all right, in fact they look human!

THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT really stayed with me. As in, I kept thinking about the situations, hearing those characters’ voices, and seeing globs of hair in my own shower drain. (That’s not a spoiler, and hopefully inspiring the curiosity of the disgusting and weird in those who’ve not yet seen the film – only movie I know in which drain hair plays a key role.) And seeing those women, Annette Bening and Julianne Moore. What do I see? Hair on the legs on Julianne, no make up on Annette, wrinkles on both. And you know what? It’s awesome.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some soft even key light on Uma or Jennifer, with a lovely spot reflection in the eyes and glowing hair light, just like anybody else does. There’s often pleasure in seeing the most doctored of beauties really pop from the screen, making me promise myself gym visits, nutrition, a full eight hours (never happens). What writer/director Lisa Cholodenko gives us is just life — so human, so recognizable. (And are they still gorgeous, really? Of course!)

Not everyone agrees. “She looks like a hag!” a friend in her 60s said about Bening. She looked at me ominously, over her glasses. “Just wait,” she said, implying my entire rational mind will succumb to an obsession with plastic surgery, and soon. I’ll try to fend it off.

What I also like about Cholodenko’s choices is that they live right there in the human middle. What we usually get in commercial indie fare is the extreme – you know, women disfigured or plumped or fake-nosed in the name of the role. Which is not a bad thing, it’s usually brilliant – Charlize in MONSTER, Toni in MURIEL’S WEDDING, Nicole in THE HOURS –

but very few films exist wherein women simply are looking just moderately less glamorous, primped and prepared. THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT sets a new standard here for the middle. Let’s continue to expand the repertoire for women characters in film, so that ‘human’ can stand proudly amidst all the perfection and radical imperfection.

Check out Perrin Drumm’s post on the film on this site.

The KIDS trailer is here:

–AH