THE DESCENDANTS--Directed by Alexander Payne/Starring George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller/screenplay written by Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash from a novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings, Rated R/2hr14min
Barbara and Gordon Rich
(B) I saw this movie twice. I have to admit even though I knew what was coming, I still waited anxiously for each new scene. Sometimes it takes tragedies to bring families together. Clooney experiences the transition of being a second string dad to becoming a dad who truly gets the meaning of fatherhood. With all the hiccups along the way, and there are many, he manages magnificently to not only to handle all his “messy stuff,” but to rise above the fray and end up understanding the true meaning of family, and not just immediate family. I give my kudos to the entire cast, but especially to Shailene Woodley who plays Clooney’s older daughter. My favorite scene is when Shailene while in the pool, gets the news about her mother’s illness. It’s very unique and powerful. The rest of the scenery and lilting Hawaiian music is soothing as you travel through the maze of problems, each like a thread in a tapestry of this touching story. Make no mistake, though. George Clooney IS the star of this film. This was easy. I give it four binoculars. See it! My prediction is for an Oscar to Clooney.
(G) This is going to be a tough awards year for me. I absolutely loved Midnight in Paris, but now I’ve seen THE DESCENDANTS and I won’t be able to pick a clear favorite. Every decision will be based on the specific category and the total number of categories won for the Best Picture award. In the case of The Descendants we see once again why George Clooney is such box office gold. Whenever there is a great script, location and director combination, he always seems to be in the mix. This film is no exception. I adored it from start to finish, and must confess that I felt a little guilty at how uplifted I felt, considering that the core of the movie was the tragic, slow death of the young wife of Clooney’s character. Last year, when I was teaching a scriptwriting class, I asked my students (as an exercise) to write a script that both meant something to them AND had something to do with Hawaiian Sovereignty. Too bad none of them came up with this script. It would have been an easy A. All the characters are well written and performed. I’m still viewing some of the contenders, but I have to say, this one is going away with some prizes. Four out of four binoculars are what I give THE DESCENDANTS, as well.