Before entering cinemas to see ‘The Descendants’ there should be a wooden sign set up that says “Beware the awards hype for there be a film awaiting ye that is sure to disappoint”. The sign would be the modern equivalent of signs that used to warn pirates of deadly mermaids or the early onset of herpes.
Matt King (George Clooney) is a wealthy land owner and lawyer who was born and raised in Hawaii. After his wife Elizabeth (Patricia Hastie) is in a boating accident, she is put on life support and Matt must make a tough decision about her future. He travels with his daughter’s Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) and Scottie (Amara Miller) around the islands of Hawaii to inform family and friends of his decision.
Director Alexander Payne has a good track record with ‘Election’ and ‘About Schmidt’ but ‘The Descendants’ doesn’t live up to any of his previous work. Despite a few good performances, there is very little emotion from a film that deals with the themes of life, death and family. A majority of the characters are unlikable and it’s hard to relate to their plight when you’re thinking that most of them deserve to be at the pit of a volcano.
Clooney is the standout in ‘The Descendants’ and gives a terrific performance despite the fact his character get emotionally kicked in the balls for 150 minutes. Woodley is quite good playing the rebellious teenage daughter but spends most of the film in a bikini that is quite distracting especially during a few emotional moments. I could honestly not concentrate on the heavy dialogue about life and death over all the noise coming from the beachwear on Woodley. It may be my male brain but I’m sure female audiences will find it a little distracting and tempted to shout “put some clothes on, you’re mothers in a coma dammit!”
The locations in Hawaii are beautiful and the landscapes service the plot well as a metaphor for the fractured family.
No doubt the awards hype around ‘the Descendants’ will get people into cinemas but it doesn’t warrant the attention considering Payne’s previous work and Clooney has put in much better performances.
‘The Descendants’ is now showing.
The Popcorn Junkie