Movie Review: The Descendants


Most people think of Hawaii as a tropical paradise where they can go to escape their problems and enjoy the weather, but Matt King (played by George Clooney) begs to differ in the upcoming film The Descendants.

He claims that residents of Hawaii deal with the same everyday issues as the rest of America and, with a plethora of dry humor, proceeds to explain all the quirks and important details of his life there.

Matt's wife recently suffered injuries in a Jet Ski accident and is being hospitalized in a coma while he continues to stay by her side. Unfortunately, he now possesses sole responsibility for his two daughters, for whom he previously considered himself merely a "backup parent."

While his wife handled the parenting, Matt focused on work and sorting out issues with his extended family, as he and all his brothers, sisters and cousins are descendants of native Hawaiian royalty. The family has owned a large section of Hawaii for generations and Matt must choose between the two different businesses vying for the right to buy out and exploit the land.

Both storylines develop in unpredictable ways, working together effortlessly – the anxiety of the business deal reflecting beautifully in Matt's family drama.

The ensemble of actors is also impressively strong. Clooney, as always, gives a great performance. He makes King's pain and confusion feel natural yet never garners pity. Shailene Woodley, who played King's teenage daughter Alexandra, was the breakout star of this film, finding the balance between bratty teenager and supportive daughter with ease.

Director and co-writer Alexander Payne presented the beauty of Hawaii without overindulging on the lush landscape. He also wrung humor out of unexpected places yet appreciated moments.

With an intricate, detailed plot and moving performances, The Descendants is the kind of fantastic film for which cinematic awards are created.