The Descendants


(out of 5)

Alexander Payne made audiences wait seven years for another feature following his critically acclaimed Sideways, and it was well worth every moment of anticipation.  stars in his richest performance as a Honolulu lawyer who has two huge issues to deal with at once: the enormous, undeveloped land on Kauai that his family has owned since the nineteenth century is under a trust which he supervises and is in the process of being sold to his family’s most attractive bidder, and his wife is in the hospital in a coma after a random waterskiing accident. He not only has his two wayward daughters to deal with, but also a personal crisis of his own when he discovers that his wife’s fortunes are looking grim and that, before her accident, she had been having an affair with someone else. Clooney packs up the kids and hits the road, hopping islands in an effort to find out more about the man who is his competition and, in the process, discovers his own ability to handle his children in his wife’s absence. True to the intelligence that Payne always brings to his screen experiences, the film has healthy levels of humour, pathos and introspection and balances all these elements perfectly, more perfectly than he has ever done before. Even the vistas of Hawaii are handled in more realistic fashion than movies usually manage, avoiding over-photographing the Aloha state as an impossible island paradise but allowing for its beauty to seep in between shots of stuffy hospital rooms and messy houses. While the plotting seems deceptively simple and familiar, the film’s initially rocky start (including the superfluous narration) does not seem to promise much and then, a few minutes in, something magical happens: you realize you care very deeply about these people. This is Payne’s most richly felt, emotionally piercing film yet, its sorrows so profound that they require time to absorb after viewing. Its cast is outstanding, particularly  as Clooney’s elder daughter, who is rebellious but never grating, and  as a key woman in the drama who brings a surprising level of natural intensity to her scenes.

, , ,

USA, 2011

Directed by

Screenplay by Alexander Payne, , , based on the novel by

Cinematography by

Produced by , Alexander Payne,

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Film Festivals:  TIFF 2011

Cast Tags:  , , , , ,, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,, , , ,

Academy Award
Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) (Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash)

Best Actor in a Leading Role (George Clooney as “Matt King”)
Best Directing (Alexander Payne)
Best Film Editing (Kevin Tent)
Best Picture (Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor, producers)

Golden Globe Awards
Best Motion Picture-Drama
Best Performance By An Actor in a Motion Picture-Drama (George Clooney)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Shailene Woodley)
Best Director (Alexander Payne)
Best Screenplay (Nat Faxon, Alexander Payne, Jim Rash)

New York Film Critics Award Nomination
Best Screenplay (Alexander Payne, Jim Rash, Nat Faxon)

Los Angeles Film Critics Award
Best Picture

Best Screenplay (Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash)

National Society of Film Critics Award Nomination
Best Supporting Actress (Shailene Woodley)

National Board Of Review Awards
Best Actor (George Clooney)
Best Supporting Actress (Shailene Woodley)
Best Adapted Screenplay (Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash)
Top Ten Films

Screen Actors Guild Award Nominations
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role (George Clooney)
Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture

Writers Guild Award
Best Adapted Screenplay

Directors Guild Award Nomination
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures (Alexander Payne)

Independent Spirit Awards
Best Supporting Female (Shailene Woodley)
Best Screenplay

Best Feature
Best Director (Alexander Payne)

British Academy Award Nominations
Best Film
Best Leading Actor (George Clooney)
Best Adapted Screenplay

Toronto Film Critics Award Nominations
Best Picture
Best Actor (George Clooney)
Best Supporting Actress (Shailene Woodley)
Best Screenplay

Boston Film Critics Award Nominations
Best Actor (George Clooney)
Best Use of Music in A Film



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