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The Descendants


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It has now been a year since this site’s inception. Thanks to everyone reading and spreading the word. I am forever grateful. As a gift since I won’t be posting until 2013, I’ll have three reviews today. First up, The Descendants.

Grade:

B

Matt King’s (George Clooney) wife, Elizabeth, is in a coma after an unfortunate boating accident. As her condition deteriorates, he is forced to alert friends and family of her impending death and also rekindle some semblance of a relationship with his daughters, Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) and Scottie (Amara Miller). Along the way, Alexandra’s friend, Sid (Nick Krause), joins the family, as they visit loved ones and Elizabeth’s lover.

The Descendants is about many things and one thing simultaneously. It’s mostly about a grieving father taking care of his children after spending years neglecting them for his work. Yet, the film dives into more complex ideas like how he reacts to finding out his wife was having an affair and planned on leaving him. He also has to deal with his relatives hounding him to sell a twenty-or-so thousand-acre piece of land for which he is the sole benefactor. Needless to say, Matt has a lot on his plate for the duration of the film.

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The multiple side plots help move the story along, but they also dilute the main plot’s potency. You can’t really decide which story deserves your focus: Matt in mourning; Matt and the kids; Alexandra and her mother; the affair; the land…the list goes on. In a way, writer/director Alexander Payne mixes the pieces of the plot well. I am more inclined to say that subtracting one or two threads would have been beneficial to the film’s influence. Regardless, the only thing truly keeping you motivated is the relationship between Clooney and Woodley (Note: not Matt and Alexandra).

The two seem very close from their on-screen rapport. Woodley matches, or even surpasses, Clooney in many scenes and becomes the focus of your attention when speaking. This keeps the film light and enjoyable until you realize the real point behind the characters’ relationship. Matt is supposed to be a non-entity in the family due to work obligations. Alexandra had been sent to a different (Hawaiian) island for boarding school. Yet, when they come together, the animosity between them dies down almost immediately. She morphs into his ally and co-parent for Scottie. Meanwhile, Clooney treats the role as if he is the girls’ uncle, not their father. He befriends them more than anything and it takes away from the familial bond that is supposedly being forged.

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The supporting cast provides plenty of opportunities for quality scenes. The oft maligned, underappreciated, and always-slighted Judy Greer is fantastic as always. Nick Krause plays the smarter than he looks surfer dude tagging along. His performance becomes a little more impressive when you learn he was attending college classes at age 10! The character is somewhat pointless, but kudos to him for making it marginally relevant.

The Descendants is subtly packed with plotlines and becomes more convoluted when you think about it. However, during your viewing, you’ll be engaged in the story and Woodley’s eyes (girl’s got some intense, beautiful eyes). I am not convinced enough to give it the acclaim it received upon release, but The Descendants is a good, entertaining film.

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  1. Reblogged this on Gilbert Men's Club.

  1. January 27th, 2013
    Trackback from : A.Soul.Fluorescent

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