Saturday, February 25, 2012


George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller

The Descendants is the latest offering from renowned director Alexander Payne. It is a bitter sweet and heartfelt family drama set in beautiful Hawaii with an exceptional soundtrack consisting almost entirely of local tunes used in apt and expressive ways.

Matthew King (George Clooney) is an attorney and a land baron. His family’s presence on the islands dates back to 1860 and a decision is due to be made within days about selling 25,000 acres of stunning waterfront property in Kuau’i, said to be the largest remaining such undeveloped parcel.

Yet he isn't exactly wallowing in wealth because he aptly says
"I don't want my daughters growing up entitled and spoiled. And I agree with my father - you give your children enough money to do something but not enough to do nothing."

He is also faced with raising his two daughters Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) and Scottie (Amara Miller) aged 17 and 10, respectively by his lonesome self. His wife Elizabeth who is comatose after a freak boating accident isn't expected to survive.

As if that isn't enough, he finds out that his wife was having an affair and planning to divorce him. He admits he has always be the understudy, the back up parent so understandably his parenting skills aren't up to par.

Payne's adaptation of Kaui Hart Hemmings’ 2007 novel unfolds over about a week’s time, during which many fundamentals about the life of Matthew King and his family are closely examined. A wry, intelligent look at the contradictions and complexities of human emotions.

The ensemble cast is exemplary, down to the smallest role. Clooney is impressive and quite convincing as a guy battling with all the intimate issues he has spent half his life steering well clear of, and finding himself near breaking point.

As Alexandra, Shailene Woodley really shines. It is fascinating to watch her progress from a bratty, resentful teenager to a point where she soon matures and becomes a supportive parent to her bewildered dad.

Payne has always impressed with his talent for infusing his flawed ordinary people characters with mixing moods and subtle emotions with such unexpected warmth and comedy. His films like "Sideways" and "About Schmidt" are clear examples of this genre.

And "The Descendants" doesn't disappoint in that aspect. A well done and quite soulful film that is guaranteed to move you through a wide realm of emotions!

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