The Descendants (2011)

The Descendants
Director: Alexander Payne
Writer: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Based on: Kaui Hart Hemmingsnovel
Cast: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause, Matthew Lillard, Judy Greer, Beau Bridges, Robert Forster

Matt King (George Clooney) is a lawyer who works a lot, even though he has enough money so it wouldn’t actually be necessary. When his rather estranged wife has a boating accident and is suddenly in a coma, Matt has to re-arrange his life completely. He never was much involved with life at home. so he is quite overwhelmed with dealing with his daughters Scottie (Amara Miller) and Alex (Shailene Woodley). When he finds out that his wife had an affair he sets out together with his daughters, and Alex’ friend Sid (Nick Krause), to find the man and inform him about the situation.

I don’t quite get the excitement about this film. I mean, yes, it is nice and perfectly acted and beautifully shot and it is certainly a good film. But from the accolades it garners, I guess I expected a little more than a good film: I expected an outstanding one. And this isn’t it.

I think that my main problem was that I just found it rather difficult to care that much about the plight of a rich white dude who has to ask his 17 year old daughter for help to take care of his 10 year old because he never bothered to involve himself that much in the family life. So, boohoo, his wife cheated on him – she’s the one who’s fucking dying. Also, it’s probably harsher to lose your mom than your estranged wife, but the daughters are not much more than sidenotes.

And I’m not saying this because I didn’t like Matt – he was a nice character and a good guy and I did understand is positions. But I’m just feeling a little bitterness toward the general prevalence of the poor white dude stories – at the expense of everybody else’s story. And it just hit me again very hard in this film.

Apart from that it was a really good film, though. George Clooney was excellent, though personally I thought that Shailene Woodley stole the scenes she was in. But I also enjoyed the other actors, most of all Nick Krause, Amara Miller and Matthew Lillard (he always makes me happy when I see him, I’m not exactly sure why).

It was well-written, if telling the least interesting story (imo) and it was beautiful to look at. Jus the soundtrack couldn’t quite keep up with the quality of the rest of the film. It was just the teensiest bit annoying.

Summarising: A tad overhyped, but fine.


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