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Cholodenko's films play it straight and gay

In this publicity image released by Focus Features,

In this publicity image released by Focus Features, clockwise from left, Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Josh Hutcherson, Mia Wasikowska and Mark Ruffalo are shown in a scene from "The Kids are All Right." (AP Photo/Focus Features, Suzanne Tenner) Photo Credit: AP Photo/Suzanne Tenner

Some might be surprised to see a lesbian cheating on her wife with a man in the new comedy-drama "The Kids Are All Right." If so, those viewers probably aren't familiar with writer-director Lisa Cholodenko. This is her third major film, and each has featured a female character who crosses the well-patrolled border between straight and gay.

In Cholodenko's 1998 debut, "High Art," Radha Mitchell played an aspiring young photographer, androgynously named Syd, who cheats on her boyfriend with a successful older artist (Ally Sheedy). The 2002 drama "Laurel Canyon" starred Kate Beckinsale as Alex - again, note the name - as a college student who experiments briefly with her fiance's freewheeling mother (Frances McDormand).

And now comes "The Kids Are All Right," starring Julianne Moore and Annette Bening as a married couple whose teenage children were conceived with donated sperm. Moore plays Jules, the spouse who strays with the newly discovered donor (Mark Ruffalo).

Obviously, there's a theme here, but it's not clear whether Cholodenko is working out her own issues on film like, say, Woody Allen. Cholodenko, 46, is in a relationship with musician-composer Wendy Melvoin (formerly of Prince's band), and they have conceived a child using a sperm donor. Beyond that, little about the filmmaker's personal life has been revealed.

There's one more common thread in Cholodenko's movies: They're not about "coming out." Neither Syd nor Alex nor Jules ever gives an earnest speech about her "true" sexuality. The message, perhaps, is that there's really no such thing.

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