Published on February 3rd, 2012 | by Emmanuel Stratford0
REVIEW: The Descendants
Summary: Alexander Payne's latest quirky offering is a drama which misses more than it hits.
With his wife Elizabeth on life support after a boating accident, Hawaiian land baron Matt King (George Clooney) takes his daughters on a trip from Oahu to Kauai to confront the young real estate broker, who was having an affair with Elizabeth before her misfortune. Can he come to terms with what she’s done while trying to keep his family together?
This is a sweet little film which deals with mortality in a very mature way but you shouldn’t expect anything different from director Alexander Payne (About Schmidt, Sideways). It has Oscar glory written all over it but although it has gotten its fair share of nominations, some of them aren’t justified. It reeks of award pandering to a point, with a well to do family having to come to terms with a family member who my die. It has some comedic moments, mainly from the daughters’ surfer dude friend, but is mainly a glorified movie of the week. Much like ‘127 Hours’ was last year, stick an A list star in there and suddenly it’s an Oscar worthy film, which this is not.
The cast are all on fine form with Clooney being the obvious standout but his teenage daughter, played by Shailene Woodley, is a revelation. She steals the movie from everyone else with a carefree adolescent attitude which has brought her tonnes of interest from Hollywood and she could be the next big thing. Character actors Robert Forster (Jackie Brown) and Beau Bridges (The Fabulous Baker Boys) pop in and out and does a fabulous job with their respective roles while Judy Greer (Arrested Development), who is great in anything she’s in, has one stunning scene which will have you in tears. But this is Clooney’s movie and although he is full of restraint, in a role which could have been very showboaty, he doesn’t quite deserve all the award buzz he has been getting.
This is the most visually arresting film that Alexander Payne has brought to the screen as he brings the amazing Hawaiian vistas to life while the soundtrack is peppered with subtle themes which sway your emotions. The script too is full of nuanced wit and powerful emotive touches but as a whole the movie feels very pedestrian.
This is a heartfelt, mildly funny movie with some outstanding performances and I would recommend people seeing it although it’s more of a DVD rent then a cinema excursion.
‘The Descendants’ is out in cinemas now.