It’s hard to imagine life in the Hawaiian Islands being anything but paradise.
Of course, reality exists everywhere, and in “The Descendants,” (directed by Alexander Payne, and based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings) we get a glimpse into the reality of the King family.
Matt King (George Clooney) has been entrusted with a lot: his two daughters; carrying out the wishes of his comatose wife’s (Patricia Hastie) living will; and the fate of his family’s legacy—25 thousand acres of paradise on the island of Kaua’i.
Things get even more complicated when King discovers that his wife was having an affair; every single one of the cousins has an opinion on what to do with the family land; and his daughters are, well, young.
Of course, the young have a way of surprising when you least expect it, and whether he realizes it or not, all of the craziness helps King to cope with and accept the death of his wife, and to make the best decision for his newly rediscovered family.
Complete with some gorgeous shots of the Hawaiian Islands “The Descendants,” is thought provoking and emotionally moving. We see a family come together in a crisis, and deal with it in their own way.
George Clooney is definitely the star of this film, as the completely overwhelmed Matt King. As a Hollywood icon, Clooney has made a career out of playing the sweet-talking gentleman, who at times seems a bit unhinged. In “The Descendants,” he does it again, but in shorts, sandals and a Hawaiian shirt (and for those of us wearing our Clooney goggles, he makes a Hawaiian shirt look like a tux).
More than a few times, his young co-star, Shailene Woodley, manages to outshine him. As Alexandra King, the 17-year-old dealing with both her mothers betrayal and death, Woodley surprises. It’s an emotional part, and Woodley evokes our sympathy without playing the victim. Pulling the focus from George Clooney is no small accomplishment, and she manages it multiple times.
“The Descendants,” reminds us that even paradise has its flaws. Its residents have their problems just like us, and they pass them on to the next generation, hoping that they’ll learn and improve on the past.
Check out more of 2WC’s film reviews: The Crusade on Cinema
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