The Descendants (15) ★★★★ Director: Alexander Payne Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller

All heart and soul

By Staff Reporter

What’s the story? Matt King (George Clooney) is a man with a lot on his plate. He’s a busy lawyer and father but he’s also a direct descendant of a 19th century Hawaiian princess.

That means that he, along with his bunch of chilled, laidback cousins, have inherited a huge chunk of exotic Hawaiian land, but, as the main trustee, he has the final say as to whether to sell off the family’s inheritance, a move that’ll make him and his cousins rich beyond their wildest dreams.

His concentration is broken, though, when his estranged wife Elizabeth (Patricia Hastie) has an accident while water-skiing.

As she lies in a coma, Matt has to cope with two daughters, mature teenager Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) and young, wild-at-heart Scottie (Amara Miller).

It’s no doubt a difficult time for Matt and the girls, but it gets even harder when they find out that Elizabeth will not recover from her injuries and is going to die.

This heart-breaking situation is further exacerbated when secrets from her life come to light and Matt, along with his daughters, struggles to come to terms with the loss of their wife and mother.

 

 

 

Any good?

Director Alexander Payne knows how to tap into very real, very basic and very powerful emotions and, if you’ve seen his previous films About Schmidt and Sideways, then you’ll understand that he has a talent for bringing tender, humorous, humanitarian stories to the big screen.

 

Engaging

The Descendants is another engaging and beautiful film from a director who shares with us the triumph and tragedy of the human condition.

Adapted from the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings, The Descendants is a story of life, love and loss in the midst of our own mortality and it paints a sincere picture of one family’s struggle to accept and forgive the flaws of a wife and mother as her time on Earth silently slips away.

George Clooney is wonderful as Matt, a family man weighed down by the impending loss of his wife, a woman he views with difficult, conflicting emotions of love and spite as her life slowly ebbs away from her.

This is a role in which we see Clooney excel, torn between accepting his wife’s fate and his struggle to master the art of parenthood with his two spirited daughters.

There’s great support from Shailene Woodley, who plays Matt’s older and more mature daughter Alexandra, and Amara Miller is a joy playing the younger daughter Scottie.

Payne brings us on a tender and intimate journey with Matt and his family and, by the end, you’ll feel touched by the simplicity of joy, the gentle ache of loss and the uplifting comfort of family unity on this unrelenting, onward march through life.

 

 

Final word?

An emotionally satisfying, wonderfully acted and superbly directed film, The Descendants is a beautiful, rewarding and personal tale that’ll touch your very heart and soul. Don’t miss it.

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