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The Descendants

A 2011 movie directed by Alexander Payne.

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A Great Inheritance

  • Sep 17, 2011
Rating:
+4

THE DESCENDANTS

Written by Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash

Directed by Alexander Payne

Starring George Clooney, Shailene Woodley and Judy Greer

 

Matt King: I’m the back-up parent, the understudy.

 

It has been seven years since Alexander Payne’s last feature film, SIDEWAYS, charmed critics and audiences alike. The long gestation period has allowed him to make  what I would describe as his most satisfying film to date, THE DESCENDANTS. Considering how much I love his earlier films, like ELECTION and ABOUT SCHMIDT, calling his latest his greatest is not a compliment I extend lightly.

 

At on point in THE DESCENDANTS, a character refers to Matt King’s (George Clooney) current predicament to be one heck of a “unique dramatic situation” and he is not kidding. Payne’s witty sceenplay finds every single important tie in Matt’s life has been tangled together and he can no longer move forward until he figures out how to loosen the ropes that are tightening around him. As the executor of his family’s estate, he is responsible for deciding what to do with a fine piece of Hawaiian real estate his ancestors left to him in trust, which has drawn much scrutiny from the locals. More importantly though, his wife is in a coma from a speed boating accident and he has two daughters (Amara Miller and breakout, Shailene Woodley) he barely knows to comfort and console. When he learns that his wife was cheating on him before her accident, it becomes pretty clear that the life he knew is now finished.

 

As particular as THE DESCENDANTS is, Payne infuses it with his special brand of humanity, sensitivity and humour. Payne has an uncanny knack for bringing his audiences right into the troubled minds of his characters, leaving both their pain and their potential exposed for all to see. In this case, all that heart and heartache seeps from every element of Clooney’s fine performance. With so much on his plate, you can constantly see the wheels turning in his head as he drifts off into thought in the gorgeous Hawaiian skyline.  He acts as a filter of sorts for everything coming before this moment in his life, now faced with the task of passing on only the best parts to his two beautiful daughters. In doing so, THE DESCENDANTS only passes on the best that contemporary drama has to offer to us.



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November 17, 2011
I may take a look at this....thanks for the review!
 
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More The Descendants (2011 movie) reviews
review by . September 28, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Director Alexander Payne has previously directed movies such as the cult classic Electionn starring Reese Witherspoon, which I own, About Schmidt starring Jack Nicholson, and Sideways starring Paul Giamatti, nominated for five Oscars winning one.    Gregory Peck once said it's hard to make a good man look interesting.    You can probably imagine in a cinematic world peopled with antiheroes, flawed heroes, or unrealistic superheroes, how refreshing it might …
review by . February 08, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Say YES to Hawaii
This is a movie about family, trust, betrayal and acceptance. And, it is one that's based in Hawaii.   So, for less than $10, one gets to see Hawaii and George Clooney. That's a bargain, I think! ;-)      The descendants is not a feel-good film. It is one that despite being filmed in the paradise island of Hawaii (and actually got me seriously thinking about settling down here one fine day!) it focuses on major theme of a person's life (same for most of …
review by . September 28, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Paradise offers no king immunity from care
Director Alexander Payne has previously directed movies such as the cult classic Electionn starring Reese Witherspoon, which I own, About Schmidt starring Jack Nicholson, and Sideways starring Paul Giamatti, nominated for five Oscars winning one.      Gregory Peck once said it's hard to make a good man look interesting.      You can probably imagine in a cinematic world peopled with antiheroes, flawed heroes, or unrealistic superheroes, how refreshing …
review by . February 19, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
After winning the Golden Globe for Best DramaThe Descendants have to be one of the front runners to walk away with Best Picture along with several other awards in the big night. If The Artist represents everything that is happy and good, than The Descendants may be the exact opposite. The difference in tone may decide which film walks away with the statuette. The Descendants is both funny and devastating and captures the moments in life we fear the most with eloquence.   …
review by . December 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
That's the first thing Matt King (George Clooney) wants you to get into your head. King is a real estate lawyer that just happens to be the trustee of his family's 25 pristine Kaui estate who is about to go through a valley of hardship. Spoilers included below.                                          &nbs …
Quick Tip by . August 24, 2012
Great job with blending the Hawaiian culture and people into this story about a father trying to connect with his daughters after his wife is gravely injured in a boating accident. Like with Sideways, this is a quest movie that not only carries the audience on this journey, but also shows beautiful scenery of the location the story is set.
Quick Tip by . April 14, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Caption
      Pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this movie. It channels the right themes, right application of dialogue and the performances were good in a way that fit its premise. I am not a George Clooney fan, but even I have to admit that he did well in this movie. Could be his best outing since “The American” and “Up in the Air”.      The direction by Alexander Payne kept focused on the things that could’ve been; it is a story …
review by . April 22, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Somber look at a dysfunctional family
When Matt King’s (George Clooney) wife goes into a coma, he realizes how distant he was from her and from his two daughters. Then he learns his wife was cheating on him.      George Clooney plays against type as a clueless father and husband with baggy eyes and a beaten-down face. He slouches through the story and generally looks pretty ordinary. He’s good in the role, but not good enough to save the movie. My first problem with it is the constant profanity used by …
review by . November 14, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
'The Descendants' 'Two Jews On Film' Can't Feel The Heart In Clooney's Latest Family Dramedy (Video)
      When 'The Descendants' directed by Alexander Payne (Sideways) started, I really expected to love it.  I mean, the film is set in Hawaii, there's a woman in a coma, and it stars George Clooney.      Unfortunately, I had quite a different experience.  I didn't hate this film, but I did find my mind wandering...thinking about my overweight dog who needs to go on a diet...Definitely not a good sign.      …
review by . February 03, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Matt King's (George Clooney) wife Elizabeth has been in a coma in the hospital for almost four weeks. She was involved in a boating accident. Also, Matt, one of several descendants of a Hawaiian princess, is the sole trustee of a family trust that controls over 25,000 acres of untouched land on the island of Kaua'i. Matt must decide for his family what is to be done with the land. At the same time, he's given the news that his wife will never recover and she has a living will, so all …
About the reviewer
Joseph Belanger ()
Ranked #26
Hello Lunchers. I am a thirty-something guy making his way in Toronto. I am a banker by day and a film critic the rest of the time. Sensitive, sharp and sarcastic are just a few words that start with … more
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Director: Alexander Payne
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Release Date: 23 November 2011 (USA)
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon
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"A Great Inheritance"
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