Director: Alexander Payne
Cast: George Clooney, Judy Greer, Beau Bridges, Matthew Lillard, Robert Forster, Shailene Woodley, Kaleigh Kennedy, Mary Birdsong, Nick Krause
RunTime: 1 hr 55 mins
Rating: NC-16 (Some Coarse Language and Sexual References)
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Official Website: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/thedescendants/
Opening Day: 26 January 2012
Synopsis: From Alexander Payne, the creator of the Oscar-winning SIDEWAYS, set in Hawaii, THE DESCENDANTS is a sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic 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 of Waikiki. The event leads to a rapprochement with his young daughters while Matt wrestles with a decision to sell the family’s land handed down from Hawaiian royalty and missionaries.
If there’s only one wish this humble columnist could ask for in his lifetime, it would be to age as gracefully as George Clooney.
Look, the guy is 50 – and how is it even possible that he manages to remain so charmingly appealing and attractively charismatic? And don’t get us started on how many awards the good looker has bagged. After winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar with 2005’s Syriana, he could be completing the collection with a Best Actor accolade at this year’s Academy Awards. After being nominated for his leading roles in Michael Clayton (2007) and Up in the Air (2009), Gorgeous George could be the one taking home that statuette this year, thanks to his heartfelt performance in this comedy drama.
Seriously, who else can look so dazzling wearing Hawaiian T shirts?
Based on Kaul Hart Hemmings’ novel of the same name, Clooney plays a Hawaiian land baron who takes his daughters on a trip from Oahu to Kauai. This isn’t a family holiday, however, as the successful businessman’s main objective is to confront the man who was having an affair with his wife. The heart wrenching part? The woman is on life support after a boating accident and she may not survive the misfortune.
Before you think this is one sob story which contains an intolerable amount of melodrama, let us assure you that this is one genuinely affecting film which will make you laugh, cry, and most importantly, tug at your heartstrings. After all, the production is directed by Alexander Payne, the man who brought you About Schmidt (2002) and Sideways (2004). Together with Nax Faxon and Jim Rash, the Oscar winning writer director has penned a screenplay that is both funny and moving.
Payne does not rush into things, having enough screen time to develop his characters. You’ll find yourself being nicely acquainted to Clooney’s protagonist, as he tells you how Hawaii isn’t the paradise every one perceives it to be. There are problems and issues which are faced by people in any other part of the world. In this instance, he has one huge problem of dealing with a dying wife, two rebellious daughters, a adulterer who slept with his wife, a disapproving father in law and a rowdy teenager whom his elder daughter insists on bringing along for the trip.
This is one shit load of mess which you won’t ever want to find yourself in. Yet, thanks to Clooney’s suave portrayal of the troubled man, you see hope and possibility in this confused times. His perfect Golden Globes winning performance is complemented by an ensemble of supporting cast, including the luminous Shailene Woodley (TV’s The O.C.) as the defiant elder daughter, the adorable first time child actor Amara Miller as the younger daughter, as well as Matthew Lillard (Scooby Doo) and Judy Greer (13 Going on 30) as the unfaithful man and his unknowing wife.
The newly crowned Best Picture (Drama) at this year’s Golden Globes is a touching examination on how you take that journey in life when it throws you off balance. Shot on location in Hawaii around Hanalei Bay and in Honolulu, this 115 minute film is that perfect respite you’ve been looking for in the theatres.
(The film’s truly touching story is perfected by great performances from the entire cast, making this a must watch)
Review by John Li