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An inspiring, emotional, heart-breaking drama

Posted : 4 years, 9 months ago on 7 February 2015 01:57

George Clooney plays land baron Matt King in 'The Descendants', an inspiring, emotional, heart-breaking drama. Matt tries to reconcile with his daughters after his wife is injured in a boat accident! And George Clooney plays the character ever so well!

'The Descendants' is an intelligently scripted film with great acting from the cast including Shailene Woodley, Beau Bridges, Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard, Robert Forster and of course George Clooney. The direction by Alexander Payne is brilliant and the music is beautiful! A great drama!

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A very good movie

Posted : 5 years, 8 months ago on 5 March 2014 10:28

Since I kept hearing good things about this flick, I was really eager to check it out. Personally, I wonder why it took Alexander Payne 7 years to finally come up with a new director effort. Anyway, it was definitely worth the wait, that’s for sure. Indeed, I thought it was a very good drama with a perfect pace (probably the best directing by Payne so far) , some more than solid performances and some of the best written characters I have seen lately. The beginning monolog also stroke a personal chord in the sense that my wife has been really sick for about 2 years now and I had about the same internal monologs as our relantionship was already pretty chaotic even before she got some health issues and even more afterwards. Of course, I didn’t went through the rest of the story myself but it was definitely a good start. But the movie is not only about a family tragedy, it is also about the faith of an aristocratic family and what they should do with their land. That part of the story was also quite fascinating and it is quite amazing that they managed to balance such diverse topics in one movie. To conclude, I thought it was really good and it is definitely worth a look, especially if you are interested in Alexander Payne’s work.

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The Descendants review

Posted : 6 years, 7 months ago on 1 April 2013 12:35

A wonderful cast and a surprisingly believable role for George Clooney muddling through fatherhood while trying to cope with his wife's affair and death. The scenery was a plus, of course.

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Raw but rewarding

Posted : 7 years, 2 months ago on 16 September 2012 04:37

When a film echoes experiences of the viewer it can dredge up memories that are painful in the extreme without any promise of a new perspective. I found the film tough going because of that.

Yet the character of Matt King (George Clooney) was so well drawn and accessible that his handling of extremely taxing events that smaller, pettier, weaker men could have spun to feel the satisfaction of revenge but to the detriment of so many others around them, were an inspiration. With so much pain around, why multiply it out? Why thrust in a knife of righteous anger at betrayal and self-interest then give it an additional twist?

There is so much to this film that it takes time to absorb the implications. Even though the plot has few surprises, the characters though initially stereotypical eventually take the nobler path, the one less travelled and by the end they have all grown in stature. Their problems were manifold and each had a different way of working around/through them. There's no right or wrong here, just a group of paths through the forest and the film allows us to admire the view on the way.

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The Descendants

Posted : 7 years, 8 months ago on 16 March 2012 07:39

The Descendants has no moment that you can’t predict coming up soon, but that matters very little in the grand scheme of things. When something is so well-written, acted, directed, and put together you can easily forgive the fact that you know exactly how it will all end. As it moves along to the resolutions we know are coming it strikes some unique tones and creates true moments filled with humor and the messiness of life. It’s a film in which the stages of grief are acted out as they happen.

As his wife lies dying in a hospital bed, a man must step up and become a parent again after years of leaving that duty to his wife. On top of that, he’s been named trustee to his family’s large land-inheritance on the Hawaiian Islands. To further complicated the matters are the cousins who are positioning for a sale of the land that will make everyone rich(er), a discovery that his wife was carrying on an affair right before her accident, and trying to become a parent when your kids are now teenagers.

I loved that The Descendants wasn’t rushing through any of these plot strands, but instead let them flow and ebb naturally and coming crashing in together in moments of serendipity and the unpredictable nature that life so awkwardly takes on much of the time. You see, his emotional reactions to one sub-plot are directly affected by all of the rest. The film shows you how grief takes on many forms and emotional colors, and how it can make you laugh at something when you’d normally cry, and vice versa.

At the heart of the film rests the central performances from George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller and Nick Krause. Woodley and Miller play the two teenage daughers, Krause is Woodley’s well…it’s hard to define. He’s clearly her best friend, but if there’s something more going on between the two of them it wouldn’t surprise, but it was never spelled out. And Clooney is, of course, our main character. That the film never asks us to like Clooney is great, because who else in Hollywood is more likable or beloved? His character’s flaws are put on prominent display from the very beginning, and he is aware of them. Throughout the film we watch as he tries to change and become more involved in his life, but change is a long and slow process. That’s not to say that we don’t observe some, but we don’t observe as much as other films would allow us to view. And Woodley as the eldest daughter is an absolute knockout. I was rooting for her to get an Oscar nomination, but it never came to pass. She is so natural in front of the camera; there is never a moment of artifice or awareness of its presence. A solid group of character actors lend their support, with Robert Forster and Judy Greer delivering some very impressive, award worthy work in relatively short amount of screen time.

And by the end, as the core family unit goes out onto the water to spread the ashes and some flowers into the waves, I felt the same catharsis that the main characters must have. Truly, one of the best pictures of 2011. But I think I forgot to mention that much of it is actually very funny. Just like Payne’s other films like Election or Sideways.

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The Descendants review

Posted : 7 years, 8 months ago on 1 March 2012 04:46

It was a very beautiful and subtle performance from Clooney, nonetheless it was Shailene Woodley that caught my eyes, she performed a real crooked lovable teen in a not so obvious way. Nice nice nice :)

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The Descendants review

Posted : 7 years, 8 months ago on 23 February 2012 05:15

The Descendants,starring George Clooney as Matt is a story of a person webbed by nursing his wife in coma, taking care of his two daughters, trustee of big piece of heritance, a lawyers and on top it he come across to know about the cheating of her wife.

Overall a good film with clooney giving a performance of his life time.

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The Descendants review

Posted : 7 years, 9 months ago on 15 February 2012 10:59

There’s nothing funny about grief, but there is a lot to laugh about in the grievous business of life. In that tiny crack in the order of things — a loophole, if you will, in the human contract — director Alexander Payne has found sustenance and inspiration. In The Descendants, for instance, his new tragicomedy, here comes George Clooney, running down the street in his flip-flops and Hawaiian shirt on a slap-happy mission of pathos. His wife Elizabeth (Patricia Hastie) has just had a boating accident and lies in a coma. Now he has learned that she had been cheating on him. He is running to a neighbour’s house to see if they knew about this — everyone seems to have been in on it — and who the other man was.

Clooney, playing a successful lawyer named Matt King, doesn’t look much like the confident ironist of his more successful romantic comedies or slick adventures. He looks like a well-preserved older guy running in flip-flops, winded, desperate, lost. He also looks, well, a little funny.
The accident and the affair are just the beginning of The Descendants, a casually unbuttoned story that asks you to laugh and mourn with a strange crew of people in an exotic and indefinable location. Not much happens until everything does, and as it did in Payne’s most successful films — Sideways, About Schmidt, Election — it happens to outsiders, men who haven’t quite grown up and must be taught to live through crisis.

It’s jammed with characters and meanders irresistibly across Hawaii, presented here not as an island paradise, but more a workaday beach community of bad dressers. “Paradise? Paradise can go f--- itself” Matt says in voice-over. Payne, adapting a novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings, has discovered a secret of grief: There’s a giddiness to (grief), a sort of freedom enclosed in its small shell of day-to-day getting through things. It’s like an island, cut off from hope but liberating. It carries on.

With his faithless wife in a coma — Elizabeth lies silently at the centre of the story — Matt must become a parent to two daughters, Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) and Scottie (Amara Miller), whom he hasn’t had much time for. “I’m the backup parent, the understudy,” he says, and he has his work cut out for him. Alexandra, the older girl, is especially angry; she knows about her mother and won’t forgive her. Woodley — star of the ABC Family channel show, The Secret Life of the American Teenager — gives a fiercely authentic performance. (For all his troubles, Matt is blessed with a dynamite supporting cast, including Robert Forster as Elizabeth’s perpetually angry father.)

There’s another story going on in The Descendants as well. Matt controls a family trust that owns 25,000 valuable acres on Kauai, and it’s up to him whether it’s preserved or sold to developers. Matt is descended from Hawaiian royalty, although they have devolved into a group of layabouts and fortune-hunters. Notable among them is Beau Bridges, who was born to wear a Hawaiian shirt, (he and brother Jeff Bridges’ Dude would make an ideal salt and pepper set at some Honolulu gift shop.)

Matt and his girls must help one another through this family crisis, with the unlikely help of Alexandra’s boyfriend Sid (Nick Krause). Sid is a hilarious stoner who’s smarter than he looks, although that’s true of much of The Descendants.

The movie takes its time going to a fairly predictable conclusion, but that’s because it keeps turning into glorious little cul de sacs. For example: Matt will meet his wife’s genial lover (Matthew Lillard, an anti-Clooney) and his wife (Judy Greer), whose awkward position — a woman whose rival is in a coma — allows her a memorable scene of sad compassion.

Clooney has never been better in a role that asks us to ignore his improbably good looks and see, instead, a baffled and unhinged tragedy in a Hawaiian shirt. Movie ads are always telling us that we’ll laugh and we’ll cry. In The Descendants, you really will.

"Vancouver The Sun"

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The Descendants

Posted : 7 years, 9 months ago on 12 February 2012 04:14

After his wife has a boating accident, lawyer Matt King is left to pick up the pieces and help his two daughters cope with what has happened. As Matt makes decisions regarding real estate, his wifes health and the well being of his daughters, he must also deal with his own emotions and realizations about what comes next for everyone.

Beautifully written, the complete opposite of what has become the norm for the type of genre it falls under. What The Descendants captures so well are the moments where people are hesitant and unsure of what it is they are dealing with. The Descendants captures the essence of a modern day family. The parents always busy with their jobs, the teenager off at school, and the younger sibling caught in the middle of a mess they want no part off.

Matt King is dealt the blow that his dying wife had been cheating on him before her accident, and his teenage daughter is left to pick up the pieces of a relationship that has been shattered because of said events. What that does is it brings an outside view of how things were before that, making the scenes where they deal with the new developments even more emotional and impacting. The emotions and the decisions to either hold onto the resentment or let go make the film very poignant and bittersweet when it draws to a close.

Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash have taken the whirl wind that is life and told a story that allowed for that whirl wind of feelings to be exposed unlike it has been in the past. Sincerity and honesty are present in just about every scene, which relies on the candidness of the actors to portray emotions that usually seem redundant or melodramatic. George Clooney and Shailene Woodley had a very good father-daughter chemistry and it was rewarding to see the relationship between their characters take on a uniqueness of its own.

Very much like other films, as it develops the urgency to make a decision becomes prevalent. Adding that element to a film that tries to bring a balance of humour to the mess of emotions floating around, allows The Descendants to play with a few genre clichés and get away with it. Eventually some of the characters say and do a few things that are visible from a mile away, but given the overall circumstances it seems right to allow that to be their decision.

For a film that is classified as a comedy, the dramatic moments are what keep the flow of the film. For example talking to the children, telling them that their mother will be removed from her life support, adds the next step in the chapter of their lives, which is coming to terms with that and moving on. Another example is the way in which Matt approaches his wife cheating on him; absolutely nothing was funny about him confronting two of her good friends. In fact it was awkward, it was genuine. Matt had an idea of what he was trying to say but failed to get it across without causing more harm than good. What was funny were the small little scenes with the children, and his teenager daughters friend Sid. These scenes kept it from being nothing but a soppy mess of emotions. Humour is the thing that keeps the film grounded.

Certainly worth a viewing, not because it is up for best picture, but because it has so much to offer those who still look for good writing, good acting and a relatively emotional film that tries to end things as happy as possible.

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A very heartfelt and thought-provoking drama.

Posted : 7 years, 9 months ago on 11 February 2012 08:51

As you will very easily recognise from the theatrical trailer as well when watching the feature film itself, The Descendants really is your typical Hollywood bait as it consists of heart-breaking and thought-provoking emotion, personal connections between characters, some light-hearted humour and the wide variety of shots featuring beautiful landscapes. Plus, the fact that it stars a Hollywood gem - George Clooney, and both directed and co-written by Alexander Payne, who has made his first major project since 2004 comedy-drama Sideways. So, as a result of these, expectations were high and after watching it, The Descendants turned out a genuinely heartfelt film, not only about family and love but also loosely about revenge and justice that could lead you to tears.

The Descendants involves various beautiful landscape shots of Hawaii and as well as having its very emotional story, it makes it look a divine charm that adds lots of natural beauty and innocence to it. Plus, there are some moments that do consist of some humourous moments that’ll make you laugh. However, despite having its dazzling and friendly aspects, it does have its occasional dark tones too such as tremendous amounts of stress between the characters and also some suspenseful segments especially when on the search for Speer and having almost no idea how Matt is going to approach the situation and what he is going to say. It is in no way classed as a thriller, but having mixed emotion, beauty and tension into one and still managing to have its very tender and heart-breaking message, we are bought with something very special which is what we have with The Descendants.

After his tremendous work in comedy-drama Sideways and having that on his shoulders, Alexander Payne returns to another Oscar buzzing comedy-drama that has almost all particular emotional aspects with its light and dark tones and balances it all absolutely brilliantly! This guy really knows how to make people laugh, how to take his audiences on adventures, make them feel attached to what’s going on and to the characters and to these dark characteristics to them that we haven’t fully seen of him just yet and should like to see in the near future. Due to his fabulous directing ability, he doesn’t write the screenplays for his films alone. He has mostly collaborated with Jim Taylor, but The Descendants became the first film without Taylor as he works alongside Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. Together, the trio write a script that is easily worthy of winning the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

See, here’s the thing about George Clooney: in every film you’d see that he’s in, you’d always just expect him to just be George Clooney due to his frequent ladies-man and charming performances that we have seen from him over the years that has set his status as a Hollywood symbol. After his most recent Oscar nominated performances in 2009’s Up In The Air and 2007’s Michael Clayton, he goes somewhere totally different this time as we see a rather strong, angry and yet a rather vulnerable and emotionally-confused Clooney. His role is genuinely effective towards the audience as we are literally standing in his shoes by going down his road of emotional suffering but also his other path of revenge. So, Clooney definitely gives one of his greatest performances of his career and whatever he’ll be in the future will be difficult to beat this one.

Alongside Clooney comes along a trio of young newcomers who have suddenly risen to fame in The Descendants. Firstly, there’s 20 year old Shailene Woodley who gave an absolutely amazing performance as Alex. Her performance expressed the emotionally broken aspects of a young girl growing out of being a cute, innocent child into becoming a beautiful, sexy woman. Plus, there was something occasionally sadistic and rebellious about Alex as she desires to find the man who had an affair with her mother behind her father’s back and wants him to suffer for what he had done. Woodley was literally robbed of an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress but there is no denying that her role is still another truly fantastic young actor/actress performance to remember. Secondly, Amara Miller makes her feature film debut as Scottie King who is someone that you’d generally call a problem child and in some ways resembles Chloe Grace Moretz in Kick-Ass. Nick Krause also makes his presence known as Alex’s at-first arrogant but later on nice “friend” Sid in his satisfying and rather pleasant role.

Overall, The Descendants is a very tender and genuine story mixing the natural beauty of Hawaii and relationships between families that leaves the all-important message: to always stand as a family in order to go through any crucial changes that occur in natural every-day life. This rightfully deserves all the Oscar fame that it has received and could walk away with a various number of awards upcoming. It is very important to know that The Descendants really isn’t for the faint-hearted and will take you on an emotional journey that is bound to make one cry and will leave you jaw-dropped as the ending credits roll.

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