Movie Review: The Descendants
Hawaii is no paradise for land baron Matt King (George Clooney) in Alexander Payne’s delightful film The Descendants. In the opening monologue our protagonist explains that to live in Hawaii is not antithetical to his life not being perfect.
The story goes like this: King learns that his comatose wife was cheating on him before her boating accident. He decides to find the guy and take him to task but what makes matters more complex are his two daughters, Alexandra and Scottie (Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller), who King has to take care of all by himself now (watch the trailer below).
Adding to his woes is an impending “will-he-or-will-he-not?” land sale, which could either end in his making all his relatives happy but dishonour a long family tradition, or end in King keeping all the land and becoming a true descendant.
Based on a novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings, The Descendants is one of those rare films where the narrative is so engaging that the running time rushes past you. Alexander Payne has in the past made heartfelt films with equal amounts of comedy and drama, where humour is found in the most awkward places. This quirkiness never seems out-of-place, though, because Payne is simply portraying life with all its beautiful facets.
The Descendants is a film where everyone shines in their respective roles. It’s easy to say that George Clooney is great – he is – but the real star of the film is his on-screen elder daughter, Shailene Woodley, who never makes the ‘angry, misunderstood’ teen character appear as a caricature. Judy Greer, in a small but significant role as Julie Speer, is also brilliant.
The Descendants is Academy-award friendly for all the right reasons: this coming-of-age story of a 50-year-old man is high-quality cinema and shouldn’t be missed.
Click play to watch the theatrical trailer:
This movie review is part of a Newsline series that looks at some of the Oscar-nominated films for 2012. Hugo received 11 Academy Award nominations.
Click on the links below to read more reviews on Oscar-nominated films:
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