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Plot: With his wife Elizabeth on life support after a boating accident, Hawaiian land baron Matt King takes his daughters on a trip from Oahu to Kauai to confront the man who was having an affair with Elizabeth before her misfortune. Runtime: 115 mins Release Date: 25 Jan 2012
From a person who's lived through it.... (by MichaelMontoya2517)
This movie is one of the best movies I've seen in a while, and that's judging it from what it is. I became a fan of A P after watching Sideways and ended up reading the book before watching the movie. I think the biggest problem people have with this movie is that it's not the typical "HOLLYWOOD" movie that forces "emotion" down our throat nor is it the typical "INDIE" film with shaky cameras, far out one shots and so on. It's simple, a bit plain, and raw. We're presented with characters that may not seem interesting at first look, but when it <more>
comes down to it, AP has once again showed us a reflection of ourselves and people we know around us. We're normal. We're not all flashy people with cool lives and have interesting personalities. Some people just ARE and live that way. I recently lost the person who would have been my mother in law. I'm twenty four, and my girlfriend is twenty two, and her little sister is fourteen. My girlfriend has recently taken custody over her sister, and with their father passing away before the little sister was born, I've found myself in a bit of a father role and it's scary and new and very strange at times. I completely related to Clooney's character right away, and could feel the frustration he felt, and the emotions he felt. I think he did well with dealing with them. It felt real to me. In fact, everyone's emotions toward the tragedy the film presents felt very real. I saw those same reactions from sisters, aunties, uncles, grandfathers and grandmothers. Some blamed others while others completely lost it. Some felt mad, while others just cried and broke down. Some were oblivious to the news like the grand mother in the movie while others were simply there to comfort Sid . I really appreciated the entire movie, scenery, and dialogue and at times lack there of . I really enjoyed the frustration they felt one minute, the humor the next, and the forgetfulness of the tragedy at times. It was like seeing a movie based on what my girlfriend and I were going through, and it felt comforting that someone had captured that so well. Not every tragedy will be filled with a room full of criers. Some might. Not all we be filled with humor and relief. Some will. For us, it was everything. It didn't seem real, and at times, it seemed dull. This movie has a special way of presenting itself in that manner and I really liked it. I'm sure not everyone will like. Either they're use to super hero action movies, horror movies, or stuff like Twilight. Maybe you are into good dramas and indie flicks and for whatever reason you didn't connect with that one. For me, a person who's just lived through it and am discovering to be a dad type to someone I'm still getting to know it was simple, perfect.10/10
The Descendants is my personal favorite film of that year because of its intricacies of emotion, humor, entertainment, characters, setting, and, most importantly, realism. Alexander Payne has officially become one of my favorite filmmakers with this work, which was preceded by his other notable works, About Schmit and Sideways. The dialogue in this film is so true and moving that it easily rivals the works of Quentin Tarantino. I also want to give credit to the best ensemble cast of year, including George Clooney, Beau Bridges, Robert Forster, Matthew Lillard, Judy Greer, the newcomer, <more>
Shailene Woodley, etc. By the way, Clooney and Woodley deserve the Oscars in their respective categories; this is the best of Clooney's performances. The story follows three different sub-plots: the permanent coma and inevitable and fast-approaching death of the wife of Matt King Clooney and dealing with his immediate and extended family with how to tell them and move on with life after the tragedy, the selling of the last virgin piece of Hawaiian land owned by the King family since the 1860s hence the title: The Descendants and of which Matt is the sole trustee, and, of course, the discovery and confrontation of the guy who was sleeping with Matt's wife. The stories go along so very seamlessly and logically that it keeps the audience absolutely enthralled until the very end. The film deals with a gravely sensitive issue: crappy parents, but, in this case, crappy moms. I'm not talking about the ones who don't provide for their children or give them enough attention; I'm talking about the ones who are quite simply bad people that are self-centered and hurt the people around them in some way all the time. As the film confirms, the children of these moms don't find out how crappy they are until they are like adults; observe the relationship between Alex Woodley and her mom and then observe the relationship between, or rather the perception of, that mom with the younger sister Scotty. A lot of people automatically stereotype teenagers and tend to write off their views and opinions because they suspect them of being drug-using, "dad-hating," irresponsible, sex crazed maniacs as a result of personal experience. However, even if one might be a drug-using, "dad-hating," irresponsible, sex crazed maniac, a teenager can be right and can even have a good sense of judging whether their parent is a genuinely bad person or not. Alex is definitely one of those.Aside from the crappy mom, Matt is a very good dad and, on top of that, a good person. He is an easily sympathetic and lovable protagonist, but he is seriously sad. As one of the smaller characters simply stated about Matt's situation: "it really blows," before Matt replies: "I know." Matt's problems are uniquely sh***y. Not only does he have to deal with telling all his family and friends that his wife is going to die, but he also has to deal with the process of selling what seems to be his last connection to his ancestors and Hawaii itself and to deal with some a**hole who saw his wife without his knowing about it. Matt's weakness is that he tends to go on cruise-control and eventually ends up being unaware of his situation and problems. This movie shows his revelation of those things.I love this movie because it is truly the most realistic piece of the year. It has the full range of effective and inspiring story-telling, acting, cinematography, and true "vision up the butt so just go with it" directorial and screen-writing ability from Alexander Payne and his co-writers, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. Also, not to forget, the brilliant creator of the story and author of the novel, Kaui Hart Hemmings. I know this name only matters if Kaui reads this, which Kaui probably won't, but you never know. Also . . . this film will win the Golden Globe, but I am a little doubtful that it will the votes of the conservative members of the Academy . . . I mean it's competing with a Scorsese flick, a Spielberg epic, and a silent and black and white movie that is actually pretty good. Nevertheless, I know that The Descendants deserves to be dubbed as Best Picture of 2011 and it happens one of my personal favorite films of all time.I highly recommend that you most definitely see this film.
Alexander Payne bursts back onto the big screen in his book to film adaptation of The Descendants. It stars George Clooney as Matt King, a man whose family history is sort of the history of Hawaii. When a new law is passed that forces him and his remaining family to pass on their large chunk of shoreline real estate, King is faced with a major decision. To make things worse his wife is in a coma following a boating accident. The outlook isn't good, but things get even more complicated when the bombshell of an affair she had is revealed.It's a family crisis. He and his two daughters, <more>
Alexandra Shailene Woodley , a teenager in reform school, and Scottie Amara Miller , a young, rambunctious girl who is quickly making more enemies than friends, need to come together to help get through this ordeal. Matt needs to get in touch with family and friends to find some answers about what to do with his land, but also sneakily uncovering more about his wife's love affair. As he digs deeper, he uncovers more about himself than about anything else.Alexander Payne is drawn to male characters struggling to find themselves. Broderick in Election, Nicholson in About Schmidt, Giamatti in Sideways, and now Clooney. They all have what appears to be a clear journey, only to find obstacle after obstacle in their way. Payne also finds himself at home in the world of adaptation. I have not read any of the books that his films are based on and I'm not so sure I would ever go after them, but Payne finds a way to present these stories about self discovery in such a unique, comic light, while keeping it grounded with a good heart.This is by far his most touching and heartwarming film to date. It's not just the writing or the source material. It's the whole shebang. Acting, photography, the setting, and one kick-ass soundtrack.Clooney leads with a strong performance, jilted betrayed husband with confused father. His face holding back the emotion as long as it can. This is by far one of Clooney's more personal performances which is saying something. He tends to give his all in his work . He is backed up by arguably the best supporting actress of the year in Woodley. Not only does she look the part but she performs her character with a certain grace. She's a loud mouthed teenager obvious influence on her younger sister who isn't afraid to get involved even if it hurts. Beau Bridges and Robert Forster offer small but effective performances that add some back story to CLooney and other characters, as well as moving along the plot.The music, a collaboration of island vibes from a wide assortment of artists, helps add to the illusion we mainland people have about Hawaii. We see palm trees, flowered leis, and white, sandy beaches, when the reality is it is just like any other state in the union. They have to work, raise families, and get stuck in traffic just like everyone else. Still, there is something extraordinary about the setting. I've seen plenty of films with bizarre and unorthodox locations, but there is a strange quality to Hawaii. Perhaps it was the melodious tones of the ukulele or the crashing of the waves along the shore, but there is a sense that this place is special, therein making the characters even more interesting. How can people live normal lives in this paradise? The interesting location mirrors the characters. There are as many layers to the beauty of Hawaii as there are to Matt King's inner-workings.The Descendants is touching, sometimes dark, and one of the best films of the year. It's a culmination of perfect parts meeting fascinating characters and a beautiful state. Enjoy.
The Descendants is not a movie that's easily defined. In the macro view, it's about a man grieving for his wife, who lies in a coma from which she may never emerge, while simultaneously attempting to care for his two rambunctious daughters, each of whom is nearly alien to the workaholic man. But don't hastily dismiss this as a tearjerker about some guy coming to grips with mortality and/or learning a little something about himself along the way. This is a movie that runs the gamut of emotions, with pristine sincerity, grace, dignity, and rich realism.Matt King George Clooney is <more>
the workaholic, a lawyer who lives in Hawaii. He has a good life - at least until his thrill-seeking wife suffers a serious head injury during a powerboat race, placing her in a deep coma. Matt's orderly life is no more. He must not only deal with the fact that he may never speak with his wife again, he must also learn an entirely new way of life - one with a domestic tinge. As wife Elizabeth's condition deteriorates, Matt must also deal with family and friends and open doors he never knew existed. All right, that's sort of cryptic, so let me give you this tidbit that is in no way a secret in the plot - Elizabeth, Matt shortly discovers, was having an affair at the time of her accident. On top of all of that stress and drama, Matt is the sole trustee of a huge plot of land that has been a part of his family for a very, very long time. He and his cousins have decided to field offers for the land, because the trust becomes dissolved in seven short years. Should they sell to the highest bidder or to a local businessman? Either outcome would leave all of them very rich indeed. The sale of the land will make a huge impact on the island, as it could transform what many see as a beautiful, nearly untouched mark of beauty into a symbol of avarice and decadence.The core of the entire story is Clooney's unbelievably terrific performance; he is vulnerable, strong, confused, decisive, anguished, angry. It's not every actor who can pull off such a wide range of expression, and Clooney is so effective in this movie that you sincerely feel as if you are standing directly in his shoes, seeing all from his perspective rather than just through his eyes. To say that Clooney's Matt is troubled is an understatement, but what makes this performance so remarkable to me is that at no time does he have all of the answers, and at no time does he have no answers at all. He is, to put it another way, us. The tremendous amount of pressure under which Matt finds himself is exacerbated by his daughters' behavior; partly their reaction to their mother's plight but also because, well, they're precocious and self- absorbed, as most kids are when they're teens or preteens. Add in Matt's cluelessness about how to take care of girls; then you have a real recipe for a wacky sitcom, don't you? Only here it's as real as it gets. First there's 10 year old Scotti newcomer Amara Miller , who acts out in class - including bringing in pictures of her comatose mother for show and tell. Scotti seems like a girl who just hasn't had enough of a male influence in her short life; you get the impression that Mom was the one who took care of the kids while Dad worked and worked. As a result, Scotti is combining typical rebellious behavior with confusion on how she should feel about her mother's being in a coma. Then there's Alexandra, currently away at boarding school; for her, you get the clear impression that she's a real problem child who's used to being shunted from school to school, like a queen of diamonds in a marked-up deck. She's away when the accident occurs; Matt retrieves her discovering she's as wild as always and necessarily leans on her to help him deal with his various problems.Rest assured, there are moments that will jerk tears from you. However, director Alexander Payne does an amazing job of keeping everything level. This isn't a four-hankie movie, because life isn't a four-hankie movie. Life has its terrible moments and its joyous ones, too, and this film emulates that layer of authenticity to really deliver an emotionally powerful, provocative, and endearing story. This isn't a movie you can just grab the kids and some popcorn and be lightly entertained, but it's also not a Think Hard movie. It's somewhere in the middle - again, much like life. Payne and cowriters Nat Faxon and Jim Rash allow us to become psychologically engaged with everything concerning Matt and his family. We're with him so much that when he makes a blunder, we think to ourselves that we'd probably make the same blunder. It's a pleasure to see a movie in which the protagonist clearly doesn't have all of the answers, even to the easy questions, but has some answers to the hard ones. And that's why this is a hard movie to pigeonhole, and it's also why it's such a beautiful, artful film.
A movie that you do NOT want to end... (by bmennen)
The director of this movie, Alexander Payne, was the guy who made "Sideways." This is a very different movie in that it focuses on family relationships rather than those between friends and lovers. But, Payne displays--in this touching and very real movie--the same incredible talent for doing two things better than almost every other movie maker at least as far as I'm concerned : 1 he brings the viewer into the geography and milieu of the time and place in a gritty way that clearly presents the natural beauty of the area without over-romanticizing it and 2 he fits the <more>
characters into this environment and achieves a reality for these people that transcends the 2-dimensional characters that populate the multiplexes. You really care about these people.Another similarity between the characters in "Sideways" and this movie is that the protagonists are, in at least one important way, lost. They both are also honest with themselves.And thank God Payne did not use an orchestra for the soundtrack that would foreshadow and punctuate the scenes telling us how our emotions should run...I will not tell you what the soundtrack is, other than to say it's perfect.This is not a comedy though there are a few laugh lines. Clooney will get the Oscar for this...how can he not? He is in every scene, and I cannot imagine him being better. And Shailene Woodley plays his older daughter: just amazing. A beautifully realized character.I tried carefully here to give nothing away but to encourage you to see this as soon as you can. Brilliant.
The Descendants is an outstanding and touching drama (by CaptMTS)
The Descendants is a tragic and heartfelt family drama set against a backdrop of the sights and sounds of modern Hawaii. The music is wonderful, and the scenery of several Hawaiian islands is amazing.George Clooney is outstanding as the father of a family torn apart by tragedy. His character deals with unsettling secrets of his dying wife and his broken relationships with his two troubled daughters. Forced to deal with the consequences of neglecting his family, Clooney does a great job capturing conflicting and powerful emotions.Shailone Woodley does a wonderful job as the rebellious older <more>
daughter, who captures the anger and hurt of a teenager betrayed by her mother and abandoned by her father. Her relationship with her father is the heart of the movie, and they slowly learn to rely on each other for support and strength in dealing with the loss of their mother/wife.The film has a wonderful supporting cast that adds humanity and heart to the tragic story. Nick Krause stands out as the oldest daughter's friend, who adds a touch of laughter and perspective to the film. His open and carefree personality grates on the characters initially but helps them to eventually gain perspective on the tragic events.Overall, the Descendants was an excellent movie that captures the raw emotions of a family dealing with betrayal, pain, and loss and learning to draw together for love and support.
Competent all around, arguably a winning product for 2011 (by Samiam3)
I hadn't seen so many elderly folks in a movie theatre, since I saw The King's Speech last year. I suppose there is a bit of irony in considering that a film called the Descendants has an audience of ancestors.The best thing about the movie however, is that I think it can be appreciated greatly by any adult age group, elder or not. There are laughs to be had and tears to be shed. The film centres around middle aged, Matt King; a Hawaiian land baron attempting to connect with his children with the knowledge that his comatose wife is at death's doorstep, and he knows that she had an <more>
affair before her accident. Meanwhile, he is under pressure from his network of cousins to sell his inherited land to the kind of real estate that wants to put up a seaside condo-mania. In essence, it's a recovery story. The formula is not entirely 'new' yet the somewhat paradoxical balance of refinement and dry humour are enough to elevate this to a very well rounded story. As far as drama comedies go, The Descendants is ideal.This may be George Clooney's best lead performance to date. I think it is the first role that doesn't require him to be slick or charismatic even for a moment. He is rather scruffy, but more importantly, he is human. Clooney brings range to the role, hitting all the right notes, funny and serious alike.I like the fact that even though we are on Hawaii a photographer's paradise the island doesn't look all that special. It's important that The islands look just as mundane to the audience as it would to the characters who inhabitant it. Most of the time it's cloudy, and low brow, except for the few moments where it is necessary to bring out the sunshine, as we stand on a cliffs edge with the King family overlooking dozens of acres of land which could very soon become merchandise.Another thing I like about the Descendents which you don't see often is an ending that is both happy and sad. Some say that great films are the ones that leave you wanting more. The Descendants did this to me, and it's probably the closest thing to a great film I've seen this year.
I had the privileged of attending the World Premier of the film, along with cast, director and a producer, at the Toronto International Film Festival TIFF . The person I attended with told me that he had read the synopsis and was fearing a depressing film. Well he was wrong. This is a film you want to see and recommend. The characters are lovable. You want to have George Clooney's character on your speed dial labeled as "Best Friend". The children/teens, there are three, are talented actors and boost the quality of this production. It doesn't hurt that a film set in Hawaii <more>
is quite inviting. You don't always know where the story is going but after scenes are unraveled you are happy that they did present themselves. Rather then depressing, this film is uplifting. You realize that even problems so far from your home are the same all over. Go out, spend a few bucks, see the move, you'll be happy you did.Side note, after the TIFF presentation the director, Alexander Payne, George Clooney and the cast took the stage. It was not surprising that George was absolutely great with the young ones and the comedy continued on stage after the movie. This very quality was evident in George's character in the movie.
Family Angst and Mid-Life Crises in Paradise Anchored by Clooney's Sterling Work (by EUyeshima)
There's a great line in this 2011 dramedy spoken in a voice-over by the protagonist: "Give your children enough money to do something but not so much that they do nothing." I'm not sure if that came from author Kaui Hart Hemmings' source novel or from director/co-screenwriter Alexander Payne's pen. Regardless, it's hard to believe Payne hasn't directed a full-length feature since the acclaimed "Sideways" in 2004, as this 2011 dramedy most definitely bears his signature approach in focusing on a core set of flawed characters with a deft seriocomic <more>
hand. Although the movie is not quite at the level of "Sideways" in shaggily mixing humor with pathos, it does boast a strong performance from George Clooney as Matt King, a wealthy O'ahu-based lawyer with Hawaiian blood, who finds himself in the enviable position of being the sole trustee of 25,000 acres of untouched land on Kaua'i. Dictated by state law, he is just about to get his extended family of cousins to reach consensus on selling the land to a native developer when tragedy strikes.Co-written by Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, the main narrative revolves around a boating accident that puts Matt's wife Elizabeth into a coma. This tragedy highlights the fact that King, a workaholic by nature, has distanced himself from his two daughters, ten-year-old Scottie and 17-year-old Alex. Suddenly, he discovers he needs to step forward and confront Scottie's bullying at school and Alex's rebellious hostility. When it becomes clear to him that Elizabeth will never recover, he tells Alex they need to visit family members to give them an opportunity to say goodbye. The strenuously resistant Alex surprises him by sharing that she caught her mother having an affair before the accident. This starts a family journey that gives way to revelations and confrontations which allow him to acknowledge his own failures and make peace with what the future will bring. On the surface, the story sounds like it will turn into a straight-ahead tearjerker, but thanks to Payne's discretion, the emotions the characters express and the situations they face are far more disheveled than that and consequently more compelling.It's not that Clooney does anything that takes him that far away from his usual screen persona here. Rather, he backseats his trademark coolness to convey a deeper level of vulnerability and confusion as a man unprepared for single parenthood. As Alex, Shailene Woodley gives a terrifically nuanced performance traversing easily between unbridled insolence and supportive nurturing. Amara Miller provides the right level of precocious honesty in her moments as Scottie. The rest of the cast makes less of an impression, for instance, Robert Forster as Matt's highly coiled father-in-law and Judy Greer as the unsuspecting wife of the realtor who had the affair with Elizabeth. The one fly in the ointment is Nick Krause, who appears to serve purely as a comic plot device as Alex's stoner-dude pal Sid. This character is the one major misstep in Payne's treatment. On the upside, cinematographer Phedon Papamichael captures the Hawaiian locations with greater variety than you would expect, and the soundtrack uses purely Hawaiian music to great effect. This is worthwhile viewing mostly for Clooney's work.