There's a scene, midway through "The Kids Are All Right," where two married women sit with their sperm donor, in his home, along with their two kids, a grown woman and a teenage boy, and they eat dinner.
This is the first time Nic has been to Paul's--though she has made no effort to visit him--; but after steady tensions between her and Jules, she has warmed up a bit; and this may be the best for Joni and Laser, anyway. As the food is ready, and dished, the five sit down and eat: Nic is making an effort, unlike last time, and has tried to engage with Paul; on the other hand, Jules is curiously aloof, and the kids are just listening, as their mom lightens up.
Nic queries into Paul's choice in music, as she noticed he had Joni Mitchell in his collection, and she mentions that her daughter was named after the said artist, and that her favourite track on the album is one titled 'Blue'; and the two discover they have a common love. Then, they begin to sing, word by word, the lyrics to the song--and there seems to be a silence at the table--; what is behind it, though, is up to interpretation.
This moment, so simple and worthwhile, is the moment when "The Kids Are All Right" establishes itself as a great movie, undisputedly. In this scene, there is insinuation; in addition, there is humour and foreshadowing; to the characters, it reveals much, and explains little--by some merit, a flawless short film on its own merit, and there are many others that rival it.
But this one is my favourite--yes, favourite!--because it's so wise, and the characters have been built into such familiar entities that they seem like friends; the action inhabits the situation, which means that the underlining tensions and future tensions are buried, and surface, organically. Annette Bening, playing Nic, supplies emotional maturity, as well as layers and layers of depth to her character; while Julianne Moore, as Jules, brings a sense of urgency to her character.
The kids and their donor are also very good;--they are, all three, very naive--; yet, they are fully realized, none deeply ravenous, as some films have led us to believe--but all have inherited their own quirks. For its thematic excellence--evident in the aforementioned scene, combined with varying degrees of payoffs--; for the ways it explores filmic ideas, though subtlety and a natural setting, rather than an extravagant one--; but, most importantly, due to its own didactic approach and implementation--"The Kids Are All Right" stands as one of the best cinematic family portraits.
5 out of 5 popcorns.