My favorite scenes in the film were always the ones with the moms, and the group scenes were also fun to watch. This is a fine written film, with acting going from ok to very good, and some really nice moments of smart directing.
Annette plays Nic, a lesbian doctor who is in a longterm successful relationship with Jules, and the two of them have two wonderful teenage kids together. When the children’s biological father is brought into their family life, Nic has a hard time adjusting to that, and it creates a tense environment that will affect their quiet lives. It’s a good role that any actress would want, and even though she’s a co-lead in a great ensemble, Nic is so different from Jules, as a character, that both of the performances really stand on their own.
It’s clear from the start that Nic is the man in the house, the alpha-female, and she is the one who has to hold most of the big responsibilities. It’s a role that she likes, and Annette does a great job underlining the controlling aspect of Nic’s personality. She is not that possessive, but she loves giving the final word on just about everything. Annette’s more intellectual acting style comes of great use here: she gives us the clear impression that Nic is a very intelligent, smart woman, both loving and vulnerable, but mostly a mother-lion figure, as many scenes stand to prove it.
And there’s more to this character than the stuffy bitch image that she seems to display at first. Here’s where Annette greatly succeeds: she brings such a loving vulnerability to Nic, one that I’ve almost never seen her do before; there are scenes in which I completely forgot about her acting tricks and even I surrendered to this character and completely believed it and forgot about Annette-the-actress. Nic is the one to break your heart in this film, and Annette gets the task of just doing that and she beautifully delivers.
Her best acted scene is of course the confrontation scene in the bathroom, after she finds out about the affair. Just be honest with me, ok? she asks, and her acting is so perfect in the scene and so touching, that it’s almost breathtaking, all helped by the wonderful screenplay. Her teary eyes tell you everything that she feels in that moment, and it’s all balanced so masterfully.
Of course, there are many things to be said about the performance: from the singing, to the great line delivery, to the honesty of her tears during Jules’s big final speech. It’s a very good performance with a couple of fantastic moments. What her competition has, however, is much more screentime, which might explain why she won’t win this year. But to me this is a strong . I wouldn’t be upset if she pulls a shocker on Oscar night.