Directed by: Lisa Cholodenko
Starring: Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska
Review: Some people will like this movie more than others and some people will like this movie more than I did. That's not to say I didn't like this movie, mind you, rather just that for one reason or another the movie didn't strike the chord with me that I am sure it will with others. There is something about a film that is written and directed like this that I don't quite connect with. I find this type of movie somewhat pretentious, I imagine people who like movies such as 'Juno' and 'American Beauty' will think this is the greatest movie of the year; however, I don't quite feel that way.
Again, please don't take this as a negative review, because it's not, I just want to give a little bit into my mindset here. As someone who appreciates the imperfection in humanity, when a movie gives characters manufactured flaws and has them always seem like they have the right things to say, there is a slight disconnect for me.
That being said, if you either like that or can get past it, then you will find a well made enjoyable film. Mark Ruffalo is the highlight here as Paul the sperm donor that helped conceive two children Joni (Wasikowska) and Laser (yeah, that's a real name). After her 18th birthday Joni decides to call the sperm bank to get Paul's information so her and her brother can finally meet their biological father.
Once they meet they begin to hit it off and start to develop a relationship. Paul recognizes, after a lifetime of bachelorhood and sleeping with incredibly waitresses from his restaurant, that there was something missing in his life. Ruffalo plays the part of a selfish 40+ year old to perfection, and he plays the part perfectly of someone who has never had to think beyond himself.
Paul grows up quite a bit through his developing relationship with his kids, and begins to think that maybe he should settle down and finally start a family, maybe that has been missing from his life and he doesn't even realize it. This begins to manifest itself through an infatuation with one of his donation recipient's Jules (Moore). He tries to convince her to go with him, and causes a huge rift in her family in the process which damages his relationship with his kids.
It is here where the performances begin to shine and the movie starts to become more interesting. Flaws in humanity and reasons behind doing what we do is a quite intriguing idea. Where this movie falls somewhat short is in that all the characters seems manufactured. I just kept finding myself thinking that people don't really talk these people do. Maybe it's just me, but that's what kept running through my head during the movie which took away from my enjoyment.
Ruffalo's performance was spot on as I mentioned above. Annette Bening definitely has the buzz and it's deserved. She plays the must always be in control stone cold matriarch very well. No doubt drawing from her role in 'American Beauty,' Bening is able to take hold of the movie and deliver a solid performance. However, she is not to be outdone by Julianne Moore who continues to give great, emotional, heartfelt performances in all her movies.
some of the most intriguing characters in the movie were the kids. Here were adults having problems who couldn't find ways to express themselves and deal with their emotions properly, all of which was having an effect on their children, yet they weren't able to show them a good example of how to deal with it. These kids are trying to learn how to grow up and be an adult and the one's who were supposed to be there weren't. This dynamic being in play is truly the most interesting part of the film.
For me, everything just seemed a little too manufactured in order for me to really buy in. There are people that will really enjoy this movie for the very reasons that I had issues, but ultimately if you're looking for a good movie with good performances then this will be worth your time.