Saturday, November 26, 2011

Box Office Review - The Descendants

I have never really liked an Alexander Payne film. Something about his movies just never clicked with me. Now after watching his newest film The Descendants, I am reconsidering my early judgement of his movies, and planning on going back through all of them. That is how much I enjoyed this film.

Set in Hawaii, Matt King [George Clooney] is facing crisis in all areas of his life. After an accident that puts his wife in a coma, he has to deal with his rather strange ten year old daughter Scottie [Amara Miller], his overly independent seventeen year old daughter Alexandra [Shailene Woddley], and an important land deal involving his extended family. On top of all this it is revealed that his wife is/was cheating on him.

Seeing as Clooney is now a man in his fifties, its nice to see him in a role as a father. His performance is as expected, very good. The character of Matt King is probably the most sympathetic character Clooney has played. GC doesn’t own the film though, as he is supported by solid performances by everyone. The two actresses play the Cloon's daughters with distinct and strong personalities that equally match, and sometimes run over his performance. As for my favourite performance in the film, that would be Robert Forster playing Clooney′s father-in-law. Looking like he has lived ten lifetimes since his amazing performance in Jackie Brown, Forster portrays an old man who has been beaten down by life. Seeing as he only has two scenes in the movie, it is impressive how he redeems his character right at the last moment, without any words.

I think it is safe to assume that the great performances in this are do to Alexander Payne′s direction. The development of the characters in this is done at a slow, but deliberate pace, and that can’t be an easy thing to do. There is a feeling in the beginning of the film that information is being withheld, but once things are revealed it is done in a natural way that doesn’t seem outlandish or forced.

The Descendants is a funny and sad film about family. Its story unfolds slowly and deliberately, and often there will be laughs in the same scenes as sadness. This isn’t an easy thing to accomplish, but Payne makes it feel effortless throughout the movie. I′m looking forward to going back through Payne′s filmography to see what I have been missing.

A Gold Banana

1 comment:

  1. Clooney and everybody else included is great but it’s really Payne who shines as the writer bringing out some funny humor but not without forgetting about the real rich moments of human drama. Good review. Check out mine when you get the chance.