Monday, March 05, 2012

The Descendants

Year: 2011
Director: Alexander Payne
Cast: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause, Beau Bridges, Matthew Lillard, Judy Greer, Robert Forster

Plot: Matt King, a lawyer who has his hands full trying to close a deal on his family's land in Hawaii, is forced to take a more hands on approach in looking after his two daughters when his wife falls into a coma after a water skiing accident. This task is made more difficult when he learns that his wife has been having an affair.

Review: The Descendants is by far one of the most entertaining dramedies I've ever seen. Director Alexander Payne adapts the novel with two other writers and directs the man himself, George Clooney in the lead role, which is truly an inspired choice.

The film makes full use of its Hawaiian setting, so it's kinda like watching Hawaii Five O minus the car chases, but the end result looks really great. You can picture the film being like one long vacation on an island, but the reality is, it's just a backdrop to a situation that can take place anywhere in the world. The Hawaiian setting just makes the film more laidback, quiet and not to mention beautiful. The great cinematography of the beaches and mountains is gorgeous, really.

But the film isn't about Hawaii, it's about family. Clooney is in fine form here as Matt King, a father who now has to take responsibility for his two daughters, Alex and Scottie. What's great about Clooney is that he can play anyone. The last time I saw him in The American, he was a hitman, but here he's just a regular guy. Despite the fact that Clooney is a handsome Hollywood star, he effortlessly slips into the role of a regular guy who now has to be a responsible parent, and also deal with his wife's infidelity. The fact that he's so believable in the role makes it easy for the audience to root for him.

Shailene Woodley is also awesome as the rebellious Alex, and the best part about her character is that she isn't the typical irresponsible teen that only makes up with her dad at the film's end. Alex is actually a good girl who loves her father, but finds it hard to forgive her mother for the affair. Amara Miller is funny in the role of Scottie, who is learning things way too fast for her dad to control. Nick Krause plays Sid, Alex's male friend who is rather dim witted, but not completely useless as we discover soon enough. He's fun to watch as well.

The only thing I didn't like about this film is the excessive use of Hawaiian music. Now, I know we're in Hawaii and all, but that doesn't mean we need to go overboard on the Hawaiian soundtrack.

All in all, The Descendants is an excellent, well paced family film that hasn't got one dull moment in it. It'll make you laugh out loud, and maybe even cry by the time it's done. (4/5)

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