HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Birth of the Dragon
Revenge of the Pink Panther
Thelma
Stratton
February
Taking of Beverly Hills, The
Marjorie Prime
Hotel Salvation
Mangler, The
Shiraz
Mercy, The
Kickboxer: Retaliation
Molly Maguires, The
Party, The
Dante's Peak
Housemaid, The
Vendetta
Brimstone
Boys in the Trees
Once Were Warriors
Red Planet Mars
Blade Runner 2049
Devil's Express
Belko Experiment, The
Flashback
War of the Arrows
One-Trick Pony
Cloverfield Paradox, The
Beach Rats
In Between
   
 
Newest Articles
They're All Messed Up: Night of the Living Dead vs Land of the Dead
The House, Black Magic and an Oily Maniac: 3 from 70s Weird Asia
80s Meet Cute: Something Wild vs Into the Night
Interview with The Unseen Director Gary Sinyor
Wrong Forgotten: Is Troll 2 Still a Thing?
Apocalypse 80s UK: Threads and When the Wind Blows
Movie Flop to Triumphant TV Revival: Twin Peaks and The League of Gentlemen
Driving Force: The Golden Age of American Car Chases
Madness in his Method: Jim Carrey and Andy Kaufman
Music, Love and Flowers: Monterey Pop on Blu-ray
   
 
  Descendants, The Crawling From The WreckageBuy this film here.
Year: 2011
Director: Alexander Payne
Stars: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Beau Bridges, Robert Forster, Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard, Nick Krause, Amara Miller, Patricia Hastie, Mary Birdsong, Rob Huebel, Milt Kogan, Barbara L. Southern, Laird John Hamilton, Matthew Reese, Michael Ontkean
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: There has been an accident. Lawyer Matt King (George Clooney) is now trying to cope with his wife Elizabeth (Patricia Hastie) in a coma at the hospital, and the fact he lives on Hawaii is no comfort, no matter what outsiders and tourists to the place might think: no matter where you are, no matter how clement the weather, if you're labouring under misery then it's just as bad for you. Seeking to make the best of a poor situation, Matt struggles to look after his young daughter Scottie (Amara Miller) but finds he doesn't understand her, and as for her teenage sister Alexandra (Shailene Woodley)...

By the time The Descendants had been released, co-writer and director Alexander Payne was well established as a creative talent with a fanbase who would see anything he made, so much so that when this was Oscar nominated in numerous categories it would have been more of a shock if it had been ignored. But while there were those who would gladly be entertained, and they hoped, moved by Payne's work, there were just as many who found what had become a particular brand of relationship comedy drama something of a turn-off, as if these were the equivalent of sitting on a plane journey stuck next to a stranger who insisted on telling you their problems.

On the other hand, a problem shared is a problem halved, or so the saying goes, so it was possible for more receptive audiences to feel improved by Payne's deadpan humorous takes on life, acknowledging that not only does nobody get out of here alive, but chances were you were going to feel some pain and probably cause some into the bargain. If you were lucky, these two inevitabilities would be kept to a minimum, but as Elizabeth shows even by doing nothing (due to her coma), it's likely heartache will ensue. So when Matt gets the talk from the doctor that there's nothing he can do, and the best course of action would be to allow her family and friends to say goodbye, he feels like he's been in a boating accident himself.

Except that for all his shock, Matt still has to go on, and tackle another bodyslam of a twist: Elizabeth was having an affair behind his back, and he has to hear it from Alexandra, who knew but couldn't tell him before she confronted her mother. And now her mother is to all intents and purposes dead to the world, so understandably she is wrestling with her own emotional conflict. And so it goes on, more problems spiralling out from Matt's marriage with his father-in-law (Robert Forster on excellent, gruff form) not exactly sympathetic and somehow blaming him for all that has gone wrong even though Matt sees himself as more sinned against than sinning. But there's one thing which can occupy his mind: find the man who cuckolded him.

This becomes a mission which offers meaning to a senseless, tragic period in Matt's life, providing much of the plot for the lengthy middle section, but also underlines his essential helplessness as he is buffetted around by life's tides and storms. In its weird way, The Descendants verged on the existential, with its harrassed hero unfettered by any kind of control over his life, and seeking to address that by making a big decision which in effect has nothing to do with his dying wife at all, for he and his cousins have to make a sale of a very old land deal their ancestors made on one of the islands, which greedy investors now wish to turn into a holiday resort, giving Matt's family a shedload of cash in the process. Can this give him the meaning he seeks? Clooney numbly went through a gamut of emotions as his confused character did what he could with an impossible situation, feeling he is leaving his daughters with no guidance or security; it was one of his best performances and you could well see why he so wanted to work with Payne. If a little slight overall, its wry, resigned humour was quietly touching.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 1287 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Alexander Payne  (1961 - )

American writer/director of offbeat comedy drama. Payne's first film was the abortion satire Citizen Ruth, but it was 1999's acclaimed, Oscar-nominated satire Election brought the director to prominence. The affecting road movie About Schimdt showcased one of Jack Nicholson's best ever performances, while 2004's Sideways gained Payne yet more awards and acclaim. Seven years later came the Hawaii-set follow up, The Descendants, which was similarly lauded, then shortly afterwards the multi-Oscar-nominated and expertly judged Nebraska.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Jason Cook
  Andrew Irvine
Ian Phillips
Paul Shrimpton
   

 

Last Updated: