From Alexander Payne, the creator of the Oscar-winning ‘Sideways’, set in Hawaii, ‘The Descendants’ is a sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic journey for Matt King (George Clooney) an indifferent husband and father of two girls who is forced to re-examine his past and embrace his future when his wife suffers a boating accident off Waikiki.
The event leads to a rapprochement with his young daughters while Matt wrestles with a decision to sell the family’s land handed down from Hawaiian royalty and missionaries to Kaua’i native Don Holitzer for development.
King takes his daughters on a trip from Oahu to Kauai to confront a young real estate broker, Brian, who was having an affair with Elizabeth before her misfortune.
Matt’s cousin, Hugh (Beau Bridges) tells him that Brian is Don Holitzer’s brother-in-law, and if Matt and his family sell the land to Holitzer, Brian stands to gain a lot of money from commissions when the land is developed.
This is a drama which is both tragic and poetic and which earned Clooney, in one of the best roles of his career, a Golden Globe for Best Actor.
He is the obvious protagonist of the film and the rest follow his excellent lead, but still keep their importance as characters and are not eclipsed by him.
Clooney’s natural talent to make light of tough situations adds a certain lightness to a film which could otherwise have been nothing but doom and gloom.
However, it is ultimately about finding oneself, forgiving and knowing what the really important things in life are.
Film Review by Gabrielle Devon