Catching Up With Mark Ruffalo

8.2.2010

By Barry Walters

Did you think it was going to be controversial?
I did know that this would come out right in the center of the debate about gay marriage, and was excited to [read a script] dealing with these issues in a sober, mature, and balanced way. My belief is that deeply embedded in the human heart is the need for family, and we'll create family whether we can put a name on it or not. I'm quite unabashedly pro'gay marriage, but I had no idea how this film would pan out.

One of the things about the marketing of this film is that it's revealed right there in the trailer that the Julianne Moore character goes to bed with your character. And while that may be appealing to a straight audience, it's a red flag for a lesbian audience that may feel burnt by films like Chasing Amy where the lesbian ends up with the guy.
The people who have taken umbrage with this movie have not been the straights; it's been lesbians. I had some discussions with friends of mine who are lesbians. 'I don't like that script.' 'Well, why?' 'Because she's with a man.' To me, it seems that they would understand that sexuality is something that couldn't be judged or easily explained or put in the context of normal or abnormal. I'm not saying that they understand sexuality any better than anyone else because they're gay but because of the way homosexuality has been judged in our culture. There must be a huge query that must go on in the soul of someone who is told their sexuality is abnormal.

[Spoiler alert: Those who haven't seen the movie but plan to should consider skipping the following paragraph.]

Ultimately, what happens in the movie is that she ends up with the woman she loves. And yes, she had a transgression, but why is that transgression any different than a man having an affair with a woman outside of the relationship or a man having an affair with another man outside of the relationship? When you see the way Lisa handles the sex in the film, she's using my character as a sex object. In one scene, Jules is literally using my face as a riding pommel. [Laughs] She's saddled the horse. And to me, that says so much.

Well, there is this history of films that at worst have exploited lesbians and at the very least failed to deliver something that reflects their lives.
Maybe this movie is trading on that syntax people have come to know. This reminds me of a little poem that my father told me when I was young:

Birdie, birdie on the sill
Yellow beak and yellow bill
Lure it in with bits of bread
Then smash in its fucking head

Which leads me to a more refined quote from George Bernard Shaw: "You need them laughing long enough to shove the medicine down their throats." This movie is not made for a lesbian audience. It encompasses that, but this movie is made for the human audience. It's made to transcend the sexual preference question and anyone can take the film to task on that particular issue if they want, but to me they're getting caught in the shoestrings and missing the sky. I like that people are seeing the film, and that to me is more important than it being a battering ram against the opposition.

The Kids Are All Right is now playing in theaters.

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