The Descendants

"In Hawai'i some of the most powerful people looklike bums and stuntmen"

The Descendants: with his wife in a coma and a complex real-estate deal on the horizon Matt King has to hold his dysfunctional, crumbling family together. Despite the ukuleles, sandals, crazy shirts and knockout scenery this isn’t just heartache in Hawaii; it’s very down-to-earth and there’s not a whole lot of glamour. Even though there’s no single major traumatic scene, the entire film plays as a long, touching human drama – you don’t even know the wife, but every time the characters speak of her, it just gets you right there…Clooney‘s good, really good – and Matt is a well-written, complex, character – but I would argue that it’s not much above what he’s done in other films recently. The older daughter (Woodley), didn’t really need the “must be wearing bikinis / skin-tight clothing” clause in the contract, she could act like a boss. Robert Forster was also spellbinding and only the comic relief surfer friend felt a little out-of-place – but he was necessary. Unassuming, and maybe a little too chilled out, The Descendants places the emphasis on family and love, and although it doesn’t pull any fancy tricks or big punches through the 110 minute runtime, only heartless people could leave the cinema unshaken – I for one was uncharacteristically emotional when I walked out. A fantastic, modest, bittersweet human drama.

Score: 9/10

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8 comments
  1. Dan said:

    I was similarly impressed by this. Great review!

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    • Paragraph Film Reviews said:

      Cheers Dan, it was a hard one to review because there’s nothing ‘outstanding’ or ‘shining’ to really point out as the reason it’s fantastic… but it just leaves you spent.

      Like

  2. Colin said:

    Not for me, I’m afraid. A bit too much like a lecture for my liking.

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  3. Rebecca said:

    I loved (and sobbed my way through most of) this. George Clooney really impressed me. And I completely agree on the bikinis/tight clothing point – the story was more than strong enough to go without it!

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  4. I think I’ve seen the trailer for this on at least 10 DVDs. I can’t wait to see it, now that it’s FINALLY available to me.

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    • Paragraph Film Reviews said:

      Just don’t power this up expecting oscar bait life drama, it’s all played tastefully and in quite a realistic, low-key way.

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      • tasteful, low key films are my favorite kind.

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  5. Hmmm, curious review. First time staggering over from Dan the Man’s place, caught this title and thought I’d chime in. I guess I just couldn’t get into this, despite my every effort to embrace what you describe as “down to earth”, heavy on the melodrama and an awful lot of plodding for my taste. I’m reminded of another Clooney vehicle, Up In The Air (I review that one here http://rorydean.wordpress.com/2010/07/23/is-up-in-the-air-a-downer/) if you’re interested. I think one of the things that would have helped this film would have been bringing the dead mother and wife off the page and out of the coma, put the two-ton elephant in the room and make everyone come to terms with the tragedy. Sure, this is the setup and the foundation of the film so doing that would completely change the dynamics but call me a romantic, I just want to spend time with my emotions rather than having them hung out like laundry to dry in a Hawaiian sun..Perhaps I’ll see you around, drop by and say hello. cheers->

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