On the road again

So after that little pit-stop I have recuperated (can you believe I’ve never written that word before!) my passion for writing about film, inspired by two easy-breezy light hearted-come-serious subject matter undertone films, namely ‘The Kids Are All Right’ and ‘Happy Go Lucky’.

I watched Kids on Saturday (just to clarify this is an abbreviation of ‘the kids are all right’ and not some confessional on a creepy weekend pastime), which was one of two of the Oscar films I hadn’t gotten around to seeing. I’ll keep the review short and sweet. Whilst it wasn’t as funny as the trailer had it cracked up to be, it remains that this is a witty and somewhat realistic film. The interactions between characters feel more humanistic and improvised than your stereotypically contrived script and this often means the narrative and situations are more relatable. That being said, the main characters Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Julianne Moore) aren’t exactly likeable. Nic is patronising and rude, whilst Jules is flighty and a bit prickly. The actresses do the best they can with what I deemed to be quite unrounded characters, but they’re not exactly people you’re rooting for. The scene in which Nic calls her 18 year old daughter Joni a ‘big girl’ is just plain irritating and you can understand why Joni and brother Laser are so sarcastic and temperamental. Joni and Laser (Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson, respectively) are probably the best things about this film. To me they are the best drawn characters and most similar to ‘real’ teenagers, obviously we are all different but thinking of the two Hollywood extremes ‘complete rebel and totally misunderstood’ or ‘butter wouldn’t melt saccharine angel’ these two characters seem to find the middle ground pretty well. Then comes Mark Ruffalo who is perhaps one of the most undersold leading men around playing the sperm donor Dad who comes into the lives of lesbian couple Nic and Jules. This is where things get quite complex, feelings start to get hurt and accusations start flying. The film also seems quite static: you’re not sure if the characters are any better off for their ‘journey’ or just a bit more damaged and confused than before. The ending feels somewhat forced and Ruffalo’s Paul is told to bugger off and does. To be honest I think this film was largely over-hyped, Hollywood probably thought this was a film that appealed to modern audiences and their desire to redefine what it means to be a family but unless it’s done well, there’s not really a point. To be blunt, this was pretty disappointing; it’s not as funny, mature or moving as it hopes to be. The highlight for me was the opening Vampire Weekend song.

Next up was a very funny little film called ‘Happy Go Lucky’ which propelled the career of Sally Hawkins, most recently known for ‘Made in Dagenham’. She plays Poppy, a bubbly, comedic sort of girl who sees the world as with an ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ outlook and just like her the film is full-on. It’s dialogue crazy and never really let’s up to give the audience a chance to breathe. While for the most part Poppy is endearing and funny there are times when it could be a little bit annoying but Hawkins is so likeable it’s hard to be annoyed at her. The film has some darker undertones and is on the whole very well acted, though it can be a little repetitive. You could be left wondering what the point of it all was, but ultimately I think it’s a very good showcase of adulthood still being fun. Life doesn’t have to end in your teens when suddenly you’re burdened with financial worries, employability and more ‘serious’ stuff. Like Poppy you can have a good job, amazing friends, go trampolining and flamenco dancing, clubbing and still be 30 and not have to worry about mortgages or career ladders. I found this film uplifting and reassuring, a little odd and rather random but otherwise a very genuine portrayal of ‘life’. Whatever that’s meant to be…

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