- A superb character story
- George Clooney at his best
- Hawaiian landscape
- Alexander Payne’s usual wit
Reasons to skip:
- It is mostly a sad movie
- Nothing to offer besides the great story, acting and directing
Alexander Payne really shows off his directing in his latest movie. The way he tells a complex tale with such simplicity is to be admired. I find it rare that a movie really feels more like I’m watching an actual story unfold than watching actors on a screen, but The Descendants managed to stand out in this regard. There were no camera tricks or sweeping complex shots, and that worked tremendously well for this movie. I have no problem with complex shots, but a movie like this lends itself much better to simplicity. All it needed was an excellent script, acting and directing and it had that in spades. George Clooney was very convincing as a troubled and confused father and husband. The reason I liked him so much in this role is because whenever I watch George in a movie, I know I’m watching George. He always has a certain level of charm and charisma he brings to each character. This was the first time I’ve seen him abandon that. For the first time I didn’t see George Clooney on the screen, I saw a man in pain. The supporting cast were all very well chosen, I couldn’t find a weak spot amongst them.
Another point to Payne’s credit is how much I liked having the juxtaposition of the sad story mixed in with the beautiful landscape. It was cleverly done, however, in that Payne would only show the landscape as beautiful occasionally, but more often would show it as being a bit more bland and grey. It helped to ground everything for me.
The movie has a good deal of wit, but don’t expect to be laughing out loud often here. This is mostly a sad story done very well.
Overall an excellent movie for anyone who loves a good drama, or wants to see a side of Clooney they never have before.