The Kids (And Coco Avant Chanel) Are (more than) All Right.

29 Jan

In the past week I have had the pleasure of seeing two very good movies. Very very different movies, but both quite good- and both really notable for marvellous lead actresses.

The Kids Are All Right is about Jules (Julianne Moore) and Nic (Annette Bening)- a lesbian couple who are raising their two biological children somewhere beautiful in California. There is 18-year old Joni (Mia Wasikowska, from Alice in Wonderland) and 15-year-old Lazer (Josh Hutcherson)… (For the record Lazer was a horrible choice for a name, but let’s not dwell). Joni and Lazer are each from different moms but they share the same sperm donor “dad”. The movie takes place the summer before Joni goes to college. Lazer, taking advantage of the fact that his sister is ‘of age’ pressures her to call the sperm bank in an attempt to contact their biological father. It works, and the appearance of sperm donor “dad”, played by Mark Ruffalo, causes a wealth of emotion turmoil in the family- for better or for worse.

As the we are led to believe, the kids are in fact, alright, as is Mark Ruffalo. On the other hand, the moms are more than alright, they’re great. Julianne Moore gets the silver medal for her self-doubting, failed-career starting, emotionally insecure “Jules”, but the gold has to go to the type-A Annette Bening. Her performance is as natural as it is powerful. I don’t want to give away any major plot twists, but if you’ve seen the movie or if you plan to, the scene at the dinner party at Mark’s house- blew me away.

Movie #2 this week is pretty much a 180 degree turn around (at least more than 90 degrees) from The Kids Are All Right. Coco Avant Chanel is exactly what it says it is, it’s the life of Coco Chanel before she became the Coco Chanel. I’m not very into, as the French say,  l’haute couture, but even I can pick out the Chanel look from a lineup. I’d never really thought of the impact someone like Coco Chanel could have on society, on culture, on the way we think about ourselves. After seeing this movie I have a newfound respect for her life and her work, which of course, I think was the point. Chanel simplified fashion, making comfort (read: less whalebone corsets, not sweatpants and a t-shirt) a priority and promoting a more simple and natural style in a very frilly world.

Like The Kids Are All Right, the standout in this movie is the performance by the lead actress. I’ve been a fan of Audrey Tatou since a friend introduced me to Amelie a few years ago. She seems to pop up in about every other French movie I watch- and I always like her performances, but this particular role sent the message home than Audrey Tatou is a force to be reckoned with. As the director said in the bonus features, it makes it easier for a director when the actor utterly becomes a character when the camera is rolling, which definitely seemed to be the case with Audrey and  Coco.

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2 Responses to “The Kids (And Coco Avant Chanel) Are (more than) All Right.”

  1. Valarie Johnson January 30, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    I wanted to read the book The Kids Are All Right before seeing the movie, but a word of warning – the movie is not based on a book! They just happened to have the same title. Can’t wait for the movie to come out on Netflix, though.

    • mzoobek January 30, 2011 at 11:27 am #

      I got it on Netflix! It’s out!

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