Movie Review – The Descendants


The Descendants centres on Matt King a land owner who’s wife encounters a fatal speedboat accident which leads Matt to need to reconnect with his daughters. Clooney needs to step up and take care of his daughters while their mother is lying in a hospital on deaths door. Is this the film that will win George Clooney his so desired Oscar this year? The Descendants comes from brilliant director Alexander Payne who bought us two brilliant movies, Sideways and All About Schmidt and his new film doesn’t disappoint.

There are very few directors in the world that manage to make perfection every time they get behind the camera and Alexander Payne is one of the directors that can successfully pull it off. All of his movies are said to be comedies but as we have all noticed they aren’t funny, they are smart, beautifully, sad but they aren’t belly achingly funny. What Payne really excels in is capturing the extreme messiness of families, this film has an especially disorientated family and Payne does a great job of capturing all of the many emotions. Despite this feeling extremely similar to Payne’s other work after watching The Descendants it makes you wish it had the comedy and emotion from 50/50 because that would make this movie perfect, but it just feels lacking. But this film proves yet again that Alexander Payne can turn any situation no matter how dark into a humorous fun time.

Where this film really shines is when it comes to the acting, both by Clooney and the young talent he plays off. After watching this it is really making me think that George Clooney should win best actor at this years awards and not Jean Dujardin, Clooney is great in this movie he has great chemistry with the other family members. One of the best parts of the film is where Clooney is running along the streets of Hawaii, it is both funny, sad, beautifully acted and shot by Payne which makes for an incredibly joyful watch. It is just amazing how Clooney can so seamlessly switch from emotion to humour but Clooney isn’t the only one that steals the show here, Shailene Woodley, who plays the role of his eldest daughter makes for some comedic moments along with some very moving ones and I would very much like to see Woodley in many more films. The chemistry between the youngest and eldest daughter also makes this film even more engaging and believable.

The mixture of great script and phenomenal directing makes for a film where you actually feel for the characters in the film, you become emotionally invested in their lives while you are eagerly anticipating what will happen next. The Descendants isn’t a film that will jump out straight away at you making you feel that this is one of the greatest films you have seen, the feeling of brilliance comes about halfway through the film when you realised how engaged you are with the characters lives making the whole film seem real.

This is a throughly enjoyable film that shows the true strains of families through times of hardship. Clooney is definitely a contender for tonights BAFTA’s and next weeks Oscars. I would recommend this to anyone as it is certainly worth anyones time but I can understand people feeling of familiarity and lack of laughs. I would say it is one of the best movies of the year (2011) so go out and check it out.

9/10

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