The Descendants review

Alexander Payne
George Clooney
Shailene Woodley
Amara Miller
Nick Krause
Rated: R

The Descendants follows the character Matt King (Clooney), a man who is a descendant of very wealthy Hawaiian land owners. Matt now holds in his hands the sole responsibility of whether to sell the remaining land he owns or not. However, he is under pressure due to the family feuding about which way to go. To make things worse, Matt’s wife Elizabeth was in a boating accident and is left in a coma, he is then informed that Elizabeth’s condition will not improve and that she will pass away within the week.

Because of this Matt and his daughter Scottie (Miller) decide to pick up his oldest child Alexandra (Woodley) and bring her back home. Once they get back home Alexandra has a sour attitude and eventually Matt finds out why. The reason is that Alexandra was angry with her mother since Elizabeth was cheating on Matt. This sets the family on a search to find the man that Elizabeth was having an affair with.

The story of “The Descendants” is told really well. The film allows the audience to get in touch with the psyche of these characters and truly see the depth of their grief, anger and sadness. It also displays the strength of a family sticking together during a time of crisis.

The plot is set up in a way to keep viewers engaged too, by having it mainly set up almost like a mystery with new details springing up over the course of the film.

George Clooney plays the role phenomenally well. The way he portrays the character shows the level of stress he’s dealing with. The emotion he displays through his dialogue is strong and leaves an impact. The character Matt King is one of the best roles Clooney has ever done, too. He is a likable and very memorable character that should get Clooney the Oscar.

I was also very impressed with the young performers as well. Especially Shailene Woodley, who carried a tremendous amount of emotional weight through out the film. She did an amazing job portraying a character who could have possibly been annoying, but Woodley made it more into an angry yet heartfelt youth.

Amara Miller was great as the young Scottie too. Her performance as a young child going through a major crisis in the family seemed really real and not forced which can sometimes happen with actors at that young of an age. Miller pulls the job off perfectly.

It was a great choice to set the film in Hawaii not only to tell the story and have a theme of having roots in a certain area and in family history, but also to have gorgeous scenery. The many views that we got to see of Hawaii were fantastic and really breathed more life into the movie.

“The Descendants” is a fantastic film about family going through many different events in life. Its characters are likable, relateable and very memorable and make for a wonderful experience that is enhanced by the great scenery of Hawaii. It’s one of the very best of 2011 and gets a 5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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