Simply Brilliant. Brilliantly Simple.
Director: Alexander Payne
Cast: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller
Synopsis: From Alexander Payne, the creator of the Oscar-winning SIDEWAYS, set in Hawaii, THE DESCENDANTS is a sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic journey for Matt King (George Clooney), an indifferent husband and father of two girls, who is forced to re-examine his past and embrace his future when his wife suffers a boating accident. The event leads to a rapprochement with his young daughters while Matt wrestles with a decision to sell the family’s land handed down from Hawaiian royalty and missionaries.
Review: ‘The Descendants’ is a simple film. But there is brilliance to be found in simplicity. This movie is the perfect example. Like Ranbir Kapoor would say “Keep it simple silly." Although it involved serious urban issues, a serious boating accident that changed a family forever, but it still was not treated with drama. It was treated with realism and simplicity. With great performances and intelligent direction involved, the audience doesn’t even realize that a film is unfolding. It’s so real that’s one feels and thinks and understands along with the characters. Urban life around them unfolds – not cinema, not drama.
Each character puts in a sincere performance. George Clooney in one of the most sincere performances of his life as Matt King the Hawaiian Land Owner/Trustee/Realtor. He is so involved with his work, that he ignores his family until his wife meets with a boating accident and goes into a coma. His elder teenage daughter Alexander, played brilliantly by Shailene Woodley, has a drug, alcohol, and older guy issues, which we presume is normal. She is ignored by her father but diligently dealt with by her mother. Younger daughter Scottie is busy acting her age, goofing around with her mother. All their lives turn 360 degrees when they realize their mother is going to be taken off the machines and there is no hope.
Yes, it is a father-daughter film. Yes, it is a family film. Yes, it is emotional. Yet there is nothing serious, nothing intense about it. It’s treated with so much realism and causality, if I might add and yet you feel each character, understand each of them, and think for each of them.
‘The Descendants’ is an intelligently made film, it silently crusades on as it makes you feel at ease about your own lives and tells you that we are all messed up. But all will be okay. It has a happy ending. Because let’s face it, family is all we got in the end, right?
Verdict: Watch it for the performances, watch it for Clooney, watch it for brilliant direction, watch it for a heartwarming story line, and watch it with family…oh just watch it will you!