Movie Review: THE DESCENDANTS - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Terry's Take

Movie Review: THE DESCENDANTS

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George Clooney stars in THE DESCENDANTS, a comedy-drama based on a novel by Hawaii writer, Kaui Hart Hemmings.

The movie was shot entirely on Oahu, Kauai, and the Big Island, and I really think it's the best feature film ever made here.
    
I went to see the film with high expectations, because I really enjoyed the novel it's based on, because SIDEWAYS director Alexander Payne is the filmmaker, and finally because George Clooney plays the main character.

So I was relieved that the movie lived up to my expectations and then some.
 
George Clooney plays Matt King, a workaholic lawyer who has neglected his wife and daughters until a boating accident leaves his wife in a coma. As Matt explains in a voice over: "I'm the backup parent, the understudy...with Elizabeth, my wife in the hospital, my daughters are testing me.
     
Matt quickly discovers that he doesn't know how to be a father to angry 17 year old Alexander and confused ten year old, Scottie.

But things quickly get worse. Just after MATT learns that his wife will never recover, Alexander (played wonderfully by Shailene Woodley) lays another bombshell on him: Elizabeth had been cheating on him.

This is not the kind of role we're used to seeing Clooney play. Instead of being suave and in control, Clooney as Matt King is vulnerable, confused and hurting. His all too human performance is already generating best actor buzz.
 
This tragic yet often funny movie shows how Matt's basic decency helps him find a way through the painful mess he finds himself in. A mess that's complicated by yet another problem. Matt is a descendant of a haole banker and a Hawaiian princess. He and his cousins own thousands of acres on Kauai. The cousins want to sell the land to developers, but Matt is the trustee of all that land and he's not sure that's a good idea.

THE DESCENDANTS is  the most realistic depiction of life in these islands that I've ever seen on the big screen. If you live in the islands, you'll recognize the people,the culture, and the Hawaiian music in this film. And if you like movies at all, you owe it to yourself to see THE DESCENDANTS.