Director Alexander Payne has been anything but prolific but his output has been memorable: “Sideways”, “Election”, “About Schmidt”, just to name a few well received films. You can add another winner with “The Descendents”. George Clooney brings another Oscar Nominee worthy effort to the story of descendant of one of Kauai’s oldest family land owners. His character, Matt King, has a wife in a coma, two untamed daughters and a pending effort to sell off the family holdings at the behest of all the King cousins. Payne does his usual magic in bringing our conception of “Paradise” down to size. Hawaii, for all it’s natural beauty, has the same domestic, urban concerns as any other locale, and Matt King struggles to get a handle on it all, underscored by a sardonic sense of humor. The acting is superb with young Shaileen Woodley as rebellious 17 year old Alexandra as a particular standout. Even smaller parts, like that played by perennial film “Best Friend” Judy Greer, as the wife of the man that Matt King’s wife was having an affair with, are beautifully acted with a minimum of screen time. Clooney is on a roll and each film outing seems to heighten his skills as an actor. The film is raw with an R rating, mostly for the salty dialogue from the two young girls, but “The Descendants” is a welcome addition to the fall slate of Oscar worthy films.
My GPA: 3.6