The Descendants is based off the book of the same name written by Kaui Hart Hemmings. At first glance, and as the trailers might have you believe, this movie seems like your run-of-the-mill quirky comedy. It stars George Clooney, is set in
, and seems to be about him running all over the place while he struggles to be a good father to his daughters. On paper it may sound familiar, but the movie is actually a somber and touching look at a troubled family trying to cope with personal loss and the sudden shift in their surroundings. Hawaii
The story takes place some time after Matt King’s wife
The acting really sells this movie and George Clooney gives one of his best and most understated performances as the emotionally distraught and morally confused Matt. His character, despite being in a position of unchallengeable power as sole trustee when it comes to the property his family owns, has little control over the conflicts in his personal life. He had absolutely no idea that his wife was having an affair, his daughters are almost strangers to him, and he doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do with the land that’s been placed as his responsibility. He struggles to find a balance with all the different aspects of his life, and in the end it’s not easy to say if he’ll ever truly succeed. Some of the other really good performances come from his two daughters, Alex and Scottie. Shailene Woodley is particularly good as his reckless and angry older daughter, who insists on bringing her dopey boyfriend everywhere they go. Together, she and Matt go about finding the man Elizabeth was having an affair with, bonding in the process. Despite his small role, even Matthew Lillard gives a good and almost alarmingly subdued performance, which is honestly something I never thought I’d see.
|Family trouble in paradise|
Suspending the disbelief that any sane woman would cheat on George Clooney with Matthew Lillard, the story is very good and has a consistent tone. It has its moments of humor, but this is not by any means a comedy. The focus remains on the personal struggles of a family dealing with the loss of someone important, but with mixed feelings. Both Matt and Alex have unresolved issues with