Film Review: The Descendants

George Clooney stars as a hapless Hawaiian Dad trying to keep his family together after his wife falls into a coma.

The Descendants

Cert. 15

4/5 stars

ETERNAL bachelor George Clooney reigns in the playboy charm to play overwrought Dad, Matt King, as he attempts to guide his wayward daughters through the tragedy of his wife’s coma-inducing accident, a wife he recently discovered has been having an affair.

On top of this, Matt is battling a clan of extended family, all eager for him to sell his ancestral land to developers, a decision that will affect the entire state of Hawaii.

Written (screenplay adaptation) and directed by Oscar winner, Alexander Payne- who brought us About Schmidt and Sideways-and is best known for his love of “simple human stories”, of which The Descendants is certainly one.

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Clooney’s performance as “back-up parent” Matt has been raved about, and indeed Oscar nominated, but it’s the writing that carries him, writing that also buoys the young actresses playing his daughters and the supporting cast that revolve around director Payne’s trademark central, conflicted character.

Unlike The Sitter and, well, most films heavily featuring child actors, Matt’s daughters, Alex and Scottie, are complicated, intelligent and self-aware.

In fact, the entire cast embodies the sense of ‘realness’ that is so characteristic of Payne’s subtle, thoughtful films, and allows audiences to truly connect on a very personal level.

The story burns slowly, the characters continue to surprise you, the drama is quietly authentic and the Hollywood clich�s are, thankfully, absent, making The Descendants one of those rare triple-threats: a film that makes money, wins awards and still manages to appease the critics.