Cinema Review: The Descendants

would you walk with this man on a beach at sunrise...?

DIR: Alexander Payne • WRI: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash • PRO: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor • DOP: Phedon Papamichael • ED: Kevin Tent • DES: Jane Ann Stewart • Cast: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller

Having recently carted away Best Film and Best Actor from this year’s Golden Globes, The Descendants should seem like an early shoo-in for entry on the Best Of 2012 Lists. However, come December, you’ll be hard pressed to remember anything from this movie other than its beautiful locales.

George Clooney is Matt King, a rich Hawaiian lawyer whose family happens to own a large portion of one of the islands. Right in the middle of negotiations about who the family should sell it to, Matt’s wife has an accident and slips into a coma. Matt is now left to look after his two estranged daughters; Alexandra (Shailene Woodley, beautiful but troubled) and Scottie (Amara Miller, cute but lonely). Matt also discovers that his wife has been having an affair and was planning on divorcing him soon. With her still in a coma, Matt has no-one to unleash this anger out on, and so the film shows his life falling apart and his attempts to reshape it into something worth living.

This is by far director Alexander Payne’s least funny movie, as the comedy to tragedy ratio in Election, About Schmidt and Sideways was better balanced, but here the movie is mostly stuck in glumsville. Clooney is excellent as the suddenly put upon father, and the daughters are great, as well as the supporting cast of Robert Forster, Matthew Lillard, Judy Greer and Beau Bridges. But this movie suffers from the same problem as The Artist, in that it’s a very average story told very, very well. So while at the time it’ll seem great, from a distance it won’t be clear why.

Rory Cashin

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
The Descendants is released on 27th January 2012

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWHNXJ1K4yA

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