Movie Review: The Descendants

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One thing that I hate about some Academy nominated films is that you go out of the movie theatre, feeling that you’ve been preached, or with a heavy heart due to the complexities of the story and the problems of the character, or just plain dumbfounded because you failed to understand a thing about the movie you just watched. This is somehow the feeling that I am expecting to have before I watched “The Descendants” but I was completely mistaken.

The Descendants is a story about family with George Clooney’s character, Matt King, in the center. Matt King is  a privileged Honolulu attorney who is tasked to be the trustee of their families inherited properties. His character is a “hapa-haole” or half-white. His great-great-grandmother was Princess Margaret Ke’alohilani, one of the last direct descendants of King Kamehameha, who fell in love with her haole (Hawaiian for white or foreign) banker, Edward King, leading to Matt’s current life as a Honolulu lawyer with deep, tangled roots in the islands.

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But his rich roots didn’t help at all in being a good husband and father to his family. Instead, he became an “understudy” father and a non-existent husband. But after his wife went into a coma after a boating accident, he is compelled to reevaluate his marriage and life. His mischievous daughters don’t trust him, his imperiled wife has been cheating on him and his broke cousins see him and the land trust he controls as a piggy bank. To add insult to injury, he’s surrounded by a lush, fertile, awe-inspiring landscape that defies his inner turmoil.

The Descendants made me laugh and cry at the same time. George Clooney may be great in the film, but the real rockstars are the writers: Jim Rash, Nat Faxon and Alexander Payne. The movie was a complete irony that worked. A film that may seem to be serious but was full of comedy, a complex storyline and drama. Even the setting speaks a ton that you are not seeing an ordinary movie.

The characters are colorful in their own ways. George Clooney's performance was heartfelt. I must say that this is a stripped down Clooney. Out of the snazzy costumes and portraying a disgruntled father, this is his performance that I liked best so far.

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I particularly loved Nick Krause’ character "Sid”. He stole the scene in almost all those times where he opens his mouth. The banter between him and Clooney was just funny. Amanda Miller’s character “Scottie King” may be a little bit shocking but this kid did not cringe a bit in those scenes.

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Great ensemble with a moving story. This is one film that proves that you don’t need monster special effects to produce a great film. Hoping to see more of Alexander Payne’s work.

Rating: 4 stars

“The Descendants” opens February 15 in theaters from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.

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