THE DESCENDANTS (18)
Release Date: 16 February 2012
Running Time: 116 minutes
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Director: Alexander Payne
Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard
Plot: From the creator of the Oscar-winning "Sideways", "The Descendants" is a sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant journey for Matt King (George Clooney) an indifferent husband and father of two girls, who is forced to re-examine his past and embrace his future when his wife suffers a boating accident off Waikiki, Hawaii. The event leads to a reconciliation with his young daughters, while Matt wrestles with a decision to sell the family's land. Under different pressure from various factions, Matt King then finds out that his wife was having an affair REVIEWS AFTER THE JUMP
Review: Alexander Payne does it again. Several years after his critically acclaimed tragedy-comedy ‘Sideways’, comes another similar entity entitled ‘The Descendants’ which takes the story to a near reality in the islands of Hawaii. Giving this novel a twist of his own, Payne delivers some of the brightest moments of film-making in his entire life in this one. It does enough to convince the fence-sitters like me who doubt it at first. But the question now is how much ‘The Descendants’ will fare in reality despite already having enough shower of praises from the critics? Not really.
‘The Descendants’ tells the story of a successful land attorney, Matt King (George Clooney) who found himself too much working but less time for a pure quality family getaway, Ironically, they reside in Hawaii! Things turn into a cock wheel spiral down direction following a head traumatic-accident that leaves his wife, Elizabeth in a coma. With the extent of her injury, no one knows when she will regain consciousness or fully restored to functional at all. Nevertheless, things are about to get even messier in his family especially with his two troubled daughters – Alex (Shailene Woodley) and Scottie (Amara Miller). Not only are both expert in foul-mouthed languages, they are beginning to adjust into an awkward life with their dad and without their mom.
Then comes another family problem lining up at his doorway. The issue of land entrusted in his family’s name for generations are now a deciding future of wealth for his family members (some are seriously broke!). As a sole trustee, Matt is on the verge of deciding whether to sell the priceless piece of land to some bidders as laws dictate him to do so with a seven year grace period still in affect or to keep it and to fight for it. That sums it all – the life in a day of Matt King.
For most part of it, ‘The Descendants’ is an okay and all-round movie that works in all the important departments. Unfortunately, it still feels lacking of something for most part of it. It is not a great movie, but more of been just a good movie on its own. Let’s walk through the movie, we shall. The plot is effectively and smartly written by director Alexander Payne to illustrate the pain of a man and also a main platform for discussing something more about life. It’s good that ‘The Descendants’ has it all - real problems, comedic moments and believable characters. Then, the dynamic combinations make ‘The Descendant’ a pure genuine movie at heart and a truly tales about dilemma.
Unfortunately, despite the effectiveness in scribbling it into a pain drama, it does not appear to have the exact impact been properly placed or sharing an accurate perspective about life. While ‘The Descendants’ has a heart for finding remedy for the heartache, so much of its life depictions seem flawed – from the organ donating issue to the rapid changes of heart of his daughters. Some of these details seem wrong and adding the mistakes are the way how problems are settled. Therefore, ‘The Descendants’ is a good account about life but it does not have the perspective of correcting problems with bigger agenda in minds. Life can be very wrong in our life but the movie teaches nothing about the value of family in a stronger note.
‘The Descendants’ has a great line up of casting that ranges from Academy Awards winner George Clooney and the young-and-talented newcomers like Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller and Nick Krause. Clooney gives a decent performance but he is still unable to shake off that annoying and at most of the times look uninspiring for invoking a dramatic punch. He is emotionless but one part of me thinks that this is still a relatively accurate interpretation of a troubled middle-aged man. I see much potentials for the newcomers especially Woodley who serves much more alike and a good representation about teenagers today. One aspect we cannot ignore is how much we love traveling and island hoping throughout the movie. ‘The Descendants’ is a travelogue in one dimension and a drama in another.
In a nutshell, ‘The Descendants’ is a good movie about real life family trouble packed in a piece of messy chapter in life, filled with overwhelming tragedy and ample humor, but it does not have the proper impact to carry the theme evenly. Rather than expecting a great performance by George Clooney, we turn to the kids for better acting.
'MONEYBALL' is nominated for 5 categories - BEST PICTURE, BEST DIRECTOR (Alexander Payne), BEST ACTOR (George Clooney), BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY (Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash) and BEST FILM EDITING for the 84th Academy Awards