Director Alexander Payne has previously directed high quality movies such as Election  [DVD
]starring Reese Witherspoon, About Schmidt [DVD] [2003
] starring Jack Nicholson, and Sideways [DVD
] (Widescreen Edition) starring Paul Giamatti, nominated for five Oscars winning one.
Gregory Peck once said it's hard to make a good man look interesting.
You can probably imagine in a cinematic world peopled with antiheroes, flawed heroes, or unrealistic superheroes, how refreshing it might be, to encounter a good guy we can relate to, in situations that parallel those we might actually experience.
George Clooney plays Matt King, a lawyer, businessman, and hardworking mostly absent father of two girls. He happens to be wealthy because of his descent from the original landowners of Hawaii, the real Hawaiians, who own most of Hawaii. Sole trustee of the family's interests, and now because of succession rules faced with the situation of having to sell off thousands of acres of pristine land to resort developers. Despite his family wealth Doug leads a very modest life. He drives a metallic silver Honda Civic, a sensible car.
When his thrillseeking wife ends up in a coma following a powerboating accident, he is thrust into the unfamiliar role of looking after his two daughters each bringing their own challenges. The younger one has difficulties in school, the older one, well, she's a teenager.
We learn early in the movie that the wife had an affair, making a difficult situation even worse. George Clooney Alex Payne manage to create apposite emotions for the movie goer. While distressed he pads out the front door, dons flipflops and runs to his wife's best friend house. He runs funny. A comic relief followed by a dramatic confrontation. Tension, and shock artfully modified by humor make this movie an emotional wonder.
When he breaks the news of his wife's condition to his older daughter she ducks underwater and we see an invisible breakdown. Some of these scenes are tender. In the hospital there are various monologues to the comatose mother, from a cheated husband, an unforgiving daughter, and a wounded wife.
The presence of Clooney vastly elevates the movie, as does the acting performance of Shailene Woodley, giving a tremendous breakthrough performance as the teenager daughter you worry might go off the rails. Judy Greer, who you probably know from Two and a Half Men appears later in the movie.
The Descendants is among the leading Oscar nominated movies. Although nine movies are nominated for Best Picture, only three I believe are genuine contenders, The Artist, and Hugo being the other two. Nominations for The Descendants include Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay.
Previously, Alex Payne won the Academy Award for the Sideways screenplay.
Based on The Descendants: A Novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings.
Post Academy award update. Payne has now won his second Academy award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
I think you will enjoy one of the years best movies, and I hope this was helpful.