Film Review: The Descendants

By Alex McConnell

Director: Alexander Payne

Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Judy Greer

Rating: ★★★

Ahhh, George Clooney: the original silver fox, and the only person that you would reasonably date that’s over the age of fifty. Hell, he’s even older than my Dad, but who cares when he looks that that? Anyway, as much as Georgie Boy’s good looks could carry a film all by themselves, this Golden Globe winning drama from director Alexander Payne shows that he is more than just a pretty face.

The Descendants centres around Matthew King (Clooney), a workaholic lawyer living in Hawaii whose wife Elizabeth is in a coma following a boating accident. Having always been the self-confessed ‘back up parent’, he now has to step up and reconnect with his two daughters, wayward teenager Alex (Shailene Woodley)and just plain weird Scottie (Amara Miller), as they face a heart-breaking crisis in their family

As well as coming to terms with the impending death of his wife, Matthew also learns that his wife had been having an affair and he goes on a mission to find out who his wife was planning to leave him for- cue a darkly humorous tirade at his comatose wife in hospital and the realisation that his marriage hadn’t been working for years.

This is a move away from usual heartthrob roles for Clooney, and with the help of a strong supporting cast, the film manages to balance the dark moments with the more light hearted to  prevent this from becoming a soppy, Channel 5-weekday-afternoon kind of movie with scenes that include Matthew’s elderly father-in-law punching Alex’s moronic friend, Sid, for mocking his senile wife, and ten year old Scottie showing a photo album of her mother in hospital to her class at show and tell, much to their distress and her insistence that it’s art.

My only criticism is that it is tad long at nearly two hours running time, so weak bladdered cinema go-ers beware! Some people may moan that the plot kind of meanders along, but I feel that is the beauty of the film; it seems to be on ‘island time’ and doesn’t feel the need to have a dramatic finish. The backdrop of Hawaii is also inspired because not only does it nicely juxtapose the depressing events taking place, but George Clooney also looks surprisingly good in a flowery shirt and that, if nothing else, is why you should give The Descendants a look.



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