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.