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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 3 November 2012
I didn't know what to expect with this film, but the newspaper reviews were good, and I like George Clooney, so I took a chance, and I wasn't disappointed.

It's a slightly off-beat film/story, with interseting characters (who develop nicely - and in at least one case, surprisingly - as the film progresses), and Clooney is very good. I never know what to expect with Clooney, but this is one of his better films - the lead role could have been overacted quite easily, but Clooney does it just right.

Both my wife and I liked it, which is unusual, as we have quite different tastes. If you like intelligent films, try it, you won't be disappointed.

NB: Only 4 stars in no way suggests anything wrong with the film, I just like to reserve 5 stars for really good films.
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HALL OF FAMEon 12 August 2012
This pleasant movie is made interesting by George Clooney's performance as a Hawaiian lawyer who, as head of a family trust, is considering a plan to sell a perfect, unspoiled part of the state to a big developer. Just about all his cousins want the deal; they'll get a lot of money. But his wife has an accident and now is on life support. He has to learn how to be a parent to his young daughters. And then to learn to live knowing that his wife was sleeping around with a real estate agent and had plans to divorce him.

Not much on the politics of family financial tugging but a lot on one family learning how to live with each other. Clooney keeps it from becoming a daytime soap serial. The self-discovery portions (there's a lot of them) are mostly wry and often affecting. No big-time movie star aura from Clooney and he's not afraid to make his character (and himself) look a bit silly at times.
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George Clooney puts his heart on the line in this one, as a land baron who's forced to stop concentrating on his work when his wife suffers a critical accident, leaving her in a coma in the hospital. Therefore George must look after his two daughters, both who are going through various stages of adolescence.

It's good to see someone normally as suave as Mr Clooney, looking pretty out of his depth with two young girls and he pulls it off well. Despite having plenty of adult themes running through it - death, adultery, family in-fighting - it's actually quite a nice film with a decent message about family values.

It's not hilarious, but then it doesn't try to be. Just enjoy it for a gentle ride of good humour.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 February 2012
Director Alexander Payne has previously directed high quality movies such as Election [1999] [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.
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It's a refreshing change to find a film that puts into words what many of us think about adulterous spouses, Matt Kings wife, Joanie, is in coma after a boating accident and as the film evolves we soon realise that she has been cheating on him and her true character becomes evident. She has grown up from being a spoilt child to become an even more spoilt wife and bad mother and her present predicament is akin to divine judgement. Matt soon realises that his relationship with his daughters needs to change and he sets about trying to repair the harm wreaked by his wife. We find that Joanie, through her selfishness has harmed the lives of those closest to her and ,to a certain extent, has become the architect of her own downfall. The film has plenty of amusing cynical points and is not afraid to be slightly controversial in its views, it shows that one persons greed and selfishness can have disastrous consequences.

Also an excellent novel that is only slightly different from the film in that it explains a little more about Sids' problems (Sid is the elder daughters' friend).
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Not all movies match up to the critic's views when the film is first released, however, for me, this is quite simply a '5 star' film.
The background to the film is the possible sale, for development of a beautiful and unspoilt cove which has been passed down the line for many generations, 'Matt King' and his many family members would benefit from such a sale, however many 'Hawaian' locals are against the sale, 'Matt' who is trustee will have the last say on the matter.
However, for land-baron 'Matt' puts the prospect of a sale on the back-burner when his life is turned upside down when his wife 'Elizabeth' has a boating accident and is left in a coma.
'Matt' now has to pay more attention to his youngest 'Scottie'
When told that his wife will not recover he and 'Scottie' travel to another island to pick up eldest daughter Alexandra' who is a student at a boarding school.
'Alexandra' is a little wayward with plenty of attitude, she soon gives her father another bombshell to deal with, telling him her mother was having an affair.
'Matt' wants to confront the man he learns to be 'Brian Spear', but in the cold light of day feels that if 'Brian' and his wife 'Elizabeth' were in love, 'Brian' should maybe have the oppertunity to say goodbye.
This is a quality movie, and, for me, is one of 'George Clooney's finest performances' ...............enjoy
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on 20 October 2012
This film has won several Academy and Golden Globe awards, so this must be a good film, right? Well, that depends on which of the three categories of people you fall into.

This is not a film with a plot that is action packed. In fact, the film covers just few days following a fatal accident by the wife of George Clooney's protagonist, and how he and his family copes with the tragedy. Just like in a real life, there is not much drama for the most part. But once in a while, life challenges you to live up to be who you really are. Like, dealing with the hostility of your father-in-law, dealing with a repugnant boyfriend of your teenage daughter, and dealing with the revelation of your wife's infidelity from your daughter just when you are up to your neck with coping with your wife's impending death. At heart, this film is about a man who, through the tragedy of losing his wife, comes around to taking responsibility as a father and keeping his family from breaking apart. Clooney is brilliant as ever, but a major surprise was to see a newcomer, Shailene Woodley, playing a teenage daughter who, over the course of this film, grows up and be supportive of her father in coping with the events as they unfolded. Reminiscent of Debra Winger in her early years, this young actress is to be watched in future films. It was also a delight to see Judy Greer, whom I first noticed in Three Kings and What Women Wants; it is a mystery why she has remained underappreciated for a long time, as her acting has always been memorable despite being minor roles.

So, if you are one of these fortunate people who have no problems in life, and are just looking for a couple of hours of entertainment, then this film may let you down badly. However, if you are at a stage in your life where you are grappling with the issue of being a good father, or just being a good man, then this film will give you things to think about long after you finished watching this film. A question I kept asking myself was, "would I be able to behave in the way Clooney's character did?" and to be honest, I fear I would do far worse. In this regard, this film is similar to Alexander Payne's another poignant film, About Schmitt, which posed an uncomfortable question whether at the end of your life you would come to regret the way you lived your life. For those of you who want to avoid regretting about these things when it is too late, then this film is for you. I am in this category so I gave it 5 stars.

Oh, and for those in the third category, the die-hard George Clooney fans, forget about all these accolades the Academy, BAFTA and the Golden Globe have bestowed. Just watch this film, you won't be disappointed by his delicately restrained performance.
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on 24 April 2015
I'm not a great fan of George Clooney but I love this film. He manages to make me believe in his portrayal of a betrayed husband, soon to be widowed, struggling with two girls and business. This man is human, half tragic half funny. An eye opener about Hawaii too.
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on 29 March 2015
I'm amazed this rates 4 stars average, but it is VERY average!

It was nominated for 5 Oscars - won none - the plot/ acting is sub-soap opera - and the 'extras' on the DVD include very self-congratulatory 'in' talk about how many hundred people were interviewed for each part - including one who just SMILES for 15 seconds and does not even MOVE for the rest of the film!

If you think George Clooney is eye candy there is something to watch - if not forgot it!

p.s it also a poor advert for Hawaii - it's cloudy or wet in nearly every scene....
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on 23 March 2015
When this arrived, my partner commented that the cover suggested that this film was a 'chick flick'. I personally didn't think so and we watched it together. This was a difficult film to watch in places. The actors in it were extremely convincing. I would not however, rate this as a comedy, as the subject of switching off his wife's life support machine did little to make me laugh. This film was with feeling, with all the characters having a very human quality. I enjoyed it, anyway.
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