I am sure you’ve all heard about this great film over the past year or so. I wanted to see it in theaters, but unfortunately didn’t catch it before it was gone. I knew then, I was missing out (it won Best Screenplay at the Academy Awards and Best Motion Picture and George Clooney won Best Performance by An Actor at the Golden Globes, along with a slew of other awards,) so I’ve been anxiously awaiting its DVD release. I had one of those weekly e-mails from RedBox last week, letting me know what was new, and to my surprise when I got home (after a wander around First Friday at Rail Road Square,) last Friday evening my roommate Alex and her friend David were about to start a movie and asked if I’d like to join them? Guess what they were watching? The Descendants! Needless to say, I was super excited and of course agreed.
The film (directed by Alexander Payne who also did Sideways,) is basically about a family dealing with the aftermath of their wife and mother Elizabeth, suffering critical injuries that lead to her being on life support following a boating accident. Clooney plays Matt, Elizabeth’s husband and father of two daughters – ten-year old Scottie and teenager Alexandra. He’s basically out of touch with his daughters, he worked a lot, and Alexandra was at a private school on the big island. The family lives in Hawaii, which makes for gorgeous scenery (and ukulele music) throughout the film. Matt attempts to navigate how he is going to take care of and handle his daughters that he hasn’t really spent one-on-one time with in years. Hilarity ensues as Alex insists that her friend Sid accompany the family on the visits to friends and relatives to inform them of Elizabeth’s condition. The sort of off-beat vibe of the film, as well as its basically dark comedy reminded me of one of my favorites Little Miss Sunshine.
I am a really sensitive person and normally the slightest emotionally moment in a movie has me in tears, but I found The Descendants had a great balance of intensity and laughter-evoking scenes. It was definitely moving, but I didn’t feel depressed from watching it. Clooney is and old favorite actor of mine, but I have to say I was impressed with Shailene Woodley’s portrayal of Alex. Having watched her in The Secret Life of the American Teenager, I was curious how she would pull this role of (obviously very well, according to critics.) I didn’t think I would take a liking to her, but I was pleasantly surprised.
I don’t like writing too much about the films I watch because I’d hate to spoil any of it, but I’ll tell you that I really enjoyed how this film doesn’t really romanticize life. There’s a definite edge of the pain and heartache that come from living in reality. Just because the situation at hand is sad and we know we’re about to be left with memories, we can’t paint them glossy in our minds and dismiss the rough parts.
If you haven’t experienced this film yet, and you’re interested in checking it out I say trust the critics (and me) on this one!
Watch the official trailer here: