Posted by: greercn | January 28, 2012

The Descendants

George Clooney is a terrific actor.  He is just wonderful in this and has a star turn of considerable depth and flair in a very moving and lively drama.

Phew. After George’s last few movies, I was beginning to fear he was just a (very) pretty face. And (sort of) Canadian, so I had to love him, right?

Beautiful Hawaiian settings and an engaging story make this a deserving winner of the Golden Globes, both for best picture and for Clooney as best actor.

Matt King (Clooney) is forced to step up from being “backup parent” to two daughters when his wife is injured in a boating accident. A subplot hinge around development plans for King family land.

As the two daughters,  Shailene Woodley and Amara Rose are very real and funny, but many scenes are stolen by Sid, played by Nick Krause. He is somebody I will look out for in the future as he manages shifts from great pathos to humour, in an instant.

Of the other cast, Beau Bridges and Judy Greer both play key roles well.

“The Descendants” starts out by making the point that Hawaii isn’t just a tropical paradise, but that theme gets lost in the endless shots of envy-inducing  beaches and superb mountain settings.

Alexander Payne of “Sideways” and “About Schmidt” directs and shows again that he has a real flair for the inside workings of troubled souls. The King family’s trouble rarely strays into mawkish territory, but is moving. 

The very full Stratford Picturehouse audience enjoyed it, although I wish latecomers weren’t quite so comfortable moving across rows and disturbing sight lines of many others. The movie was engaging enough that the usual mobile phones stayed silent.

The author of the book this movie is based on, Kaui Hart Hemmings, plays a too-short cameo role as Matt’s secretary.

Music underscores the scenes very nicely. After seeing a run of rather heavy movies with deep meanings, “The Descendants” is that rarity, a gentle family story that lifts you up, while still having a great deal to it.

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