The Kids are All Right, but what about us?

“A must-see, laugh out loud comedy” as the tabloids would say.  That films like this still get made restores my faith in the Hollywood machine, and if like me you loved Junebug, Sideways and Juno you’ll love this too. I know it was released a long while ago, but I sometimes take a while to get round to things…..

It’s a film about big issues – parenthood; sexuality; transitions (adolescence, middle-age) long-term relationships and existential meaning (what’s the point of all this anyway?) but done with a deceptive lightness of touch and compassion for all its protagonists, without resorting to sentimentality or cliché.

Aside from being left with a warm glow of satisfaction, I was struck by how conflicted I felt watching two great actresses, Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, showing their age,  49 and 52 respectively.

Last time I saw Moore was in the Tom Ford movie A Single Man, doomed and alcoholic but painted and preened to perfection.  In The Kids Are All Right her face-cheeks and bum-cheeks sag, while her mouth openly reveals the tell-tale grooves of a lifetime of too many fags.  But what made me feel most uncomfortable was how transfixing I found Benning’s sun damaged neck. Am I really so conditioned by our contemporary culture’s pervasive images of youthful, photo-shopped distortions (Cheryl Tweedy et al) that I, a 40 something woman myself,  find beautiful middle-aged women somehow disfigured by the aging process?

It is unbearable to me that we live in a culture where the male actor in this film, Mark Ruffalo (age 43) is the hot-tottie, while it’s implied that two beautiful women, just a few years older than him, are soon to pass their sexual sell-by date. The only answer has to be that we need more age diversity on screen and in the media to counter-balance the insidious effects of the invasion of the plastic  ladies we’ve become lulled into thinking is the norm for female beauty. Susie Orbach writes brilliantly about this, her book Bodies is a good place to start.

All Walks Beyond the Catwalk – is an online campaign to create awareness of diversity in the fashion industry.