Plot – A land baron tries to reconnect with his two daughters after his wife is seriously injured in a boating accident – The Descendants.
Director – Alexander Payne
Starring – George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller
Released – 2011
If you liked: The King of Staten Island, The Way Way Back, Little Miss Sunshine
It would always be difficult for Alexander Payne to make a film that came anywhere near his exquisite 2004 movie Sideways. But The Descendants proves that Payne still has all the skill and wit required to make an excellent bittersweet movie, and his talent has grown over the years. Crafting an intelligent, warm and poignant drama-comedy, which stays with you for a long time afterwards.
In essence, The Descendants is a story about recovery. Though the formula isn’t the freshest you’re ever likely to see, Payne found a wonderful balance between dry humour and astute dialogue is enough to elevate the simple premise into an extremely well-rounded story about coming to terms with loss and betrayal.
Pushed over the top by what may be George Clooney’s best lead performance for a long time, helped by the fact his character wasn’t the slick or charismatic person that directors usually like Clooney to play, here he’s scruffy and at times barely functional human trying to his best for his family and his home despite all his heartbreak and anger. Clooney brings talent to the role filled with complex emotions.
One of the most interesting and genius aspects of the film is the cinematography and the fact that even though we are in Hawaii is a stunning place to film, the island for all its natural beauty is made to look as mundane to the viewer as it would to the characters who call these islands their home.
The sunshine and sweeping shots of beautiful vistas are used sparingly and only when the film requires it, such as when the King family travelled to the cliff overlooking the land they own and could soon become real estate.
Overall, The Descendants is a great movie filled with pain, hurt, and regret but also hope and forgiveness, it’s an emotional journey that proves sometimes it’s better to let go and move on, rather than bottle up your problems.