Filmmaker Lisa Cholodenko has been an indie darling since her 1998 film “High Art,” but her current “The Kids Are All Right” is making its mark in a mainstream way. The film expands into more area theaters Friday.
Much like the big gay crossover “Brokeback Mountain,” the distributors of “Kids” smartly soft-launched the film that they knew would do well with LGBT audiences and now are gradually widening its exposure. In Atlanta, that means most area theaters will carry the picture after a few weeks at the smaller Regal Tara Cinema.
In the well-reviewed “Kids,” Annette Bening and Julianne Moore star as Nic and Jules, a lesbian couple whose lives change when their teenagers look up the sperm donor responsible for each of them – laidback restaurateur Paul, played by Mark Ruffalo.
Although the definition of “family” has changed a lot over the years for everyone, especially in LGBT households, Cholodenko (photo) calls herself old-fashioned in regards to how she perceives family.
“I am unconventional in that I’m a filmmaker and I’m married to a musician and we are both gay,” she says. “But my idea of family is very conventional.”
One of the most noted aspects of the film is that the central lesbian couple is a non-flashy duo facing issues any couple could.
“We worked really hard to pare them back to essentials,” Cholodenko says. “If they aren’t three dimensional, fleshed out with contradictions and nuances and shading, they are just archetypes – the overbearing parent who only wants her kids to be safe and at the top of the class, and the other, more feeling, more in touch with their psychological health.
“I think those are our ideal parents, but it was fun for us to use that as a core and make it them original.”
Cholodenko worked on the script for five years with Stuart Blumberg. Halfway through the first draft, she realized that Moore would be ideal for the project.
“We met years ago and always wanted to work with each other,” says the director. “I sent this to her, and she wanted to do it.”
Moore’s enthusiasm for the script is also credited for helping to get Bening and Ruffalo aboard the project.
In the film, Jules begins a relationship with Paul that has created a stir among some lesbian audience members. Cholodenko says it makes sense an stands by the decision.
“She sees someone who finds her interesting and dignified, competent and attractive,” Cholodenko says. “Those are things she is not getting at home, that she doesn’t feel from herself. People are attracted to those who make them feel good about themselves.
“She already has a connection—two kids—with Paul. That is a fast track to intimacy,” she adds. “Biologically, she has made a child with this guy.”
“High Art” was released more than 10 years ago and resuscitated Brat Pack alumna Ally Sheedy’s career. It also made Cholodenko a force as an out director.
The director says she has changed some since then, but mostly as a result of getting older.
“As a person, and as a mother, I have been through different things and I am able to see different angles and perspectives,” she reflects. “When I made ‘High Art,’ I was in my mid to early 30s, and now I am in my mid to early 40s.”
“The Kids Are All Right” expands in area theaters starting Friday.
Jim Farmer is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and public relations professional specializing in film promotions. He is the director of the annual Out On Film, Atlanta’s gay and lesbian film festival, and has been a theater and pop-culture critic for more than a dozen years.