Nic (Bening) and Jules (Moore) are a lesbian couple who have been together for over 20 years. They have two children Joni (Wasikowska) and Laser (Hutcherson) who contact their sperm donor dad Paul (Ruffalo) when Joni turns eighteen.
Joni and Laser have grown up with their two Mom’s and never known much about their dad. The main reason behind that being that their mom’s did not know him either. They each used his sperm to have the two children 3 years apart. 18 Years later they decide that they want to get in contact with him and find out exactly who he is and what he achieved in life.
From the first meeting with Paul it is obvious that Laser was disappointed and maybe expected too much from him. Hoping he would be into sports. One major problem about the contact and the meeting they did not tell either of their moms. Which they were obviously not going to be too happy about when they found it.
This family would be seen as “normal” if it was a man and woman with two teenage children having the problems every family has. But obviously the lesbian relationship puts a different spin on the traditional family. Even more so when the sperm donor is brought into it all. I think it enters some difficult scenes when they bring him into the family environment. Nic does not want to attempt to know him at all. Jules ends up working for him, landscaping his back garden. And embarking on a sexual affair . . . yeah I don’t get that either. If it was an emotional affair I would have completely understood as Jules and Nic were going through a tough time. But for a lesbian to have a sexual affair with a man just makes no sense for me.
Nic decides that she is going to make more of an effort with Paul, and you can just sense that she is going to find out about Jules’ affair. I think the way she worked it all out was rather heartbreaking as surely that is possibly the biggest shock. Paul seemed to think that just because he played a massive part in creating the children that it automatically makes him their father? But he soon realises that they are family without him and don’t actually need him.
While all the Oscar talk is about Annette Bening I think Julianne Moore should have been given more credit especially for the quote below, which brings the family back talking to her after a difficult phase.
…marriage is hard… Just two people slogging through the shit, year after year, getting older, changing. It’s a fucking marathon, okay? So, sometimes, you know, you’re together for so long, that you just… You stop seeing the other person. You just see weird projections of your own junk. Instead of talking to each other, you go off the rails and act grubby and make stupid choices… You know if I read more Russian novels, then…
I found that to be such a huge moment in the film, as she was really making a last-ditch attempt to win them back over. All of this drama was going on in Joni’s last summer at home before she was moving away to college, which I felt made a lot of it worse as you didn’t want to see her leave on bad terms with her moms.
I felt that the cast all worked very well together and were believable as a family. Mark Ruffalo did not seem as awkward as he often does in roles. Annette Bening is always brilliant, but I felt she was more supporting than leading if you compare her screen time to that of Julianne Moore. Mia Wasikowska seems to be in quite a few things at the moment and building on an ever-growing reputation.
This film is nominated for the best picture Oscar, but I cannot see it really coming close in the running. The other films are stronger in my opinion.