Tuesday, April 29, 2014
Indie Review: The Descendants
A Rather Humanistic Drama That 'Descends' Deep Into Feelings of Loss
Even though I am pretty fond of the director Alexander Payne, who gave us films like Nebraska and one of my favorites, Election, I watched this film not knowing what to expect. After watching it, I found myself very absorbed by its story that is something that we can relate to, as it explores how slowly losing a loved one has such a huge effect on us.
The Descendants is about a Hawaiian land owner named Matt King (George Clooney) whose wife got injured in a boating accident and is put in a coma. He is then left to care for their two daughters: 10-year-old Scottie (Amara Miller) and rebellious 17-year-old Alex (Shailene Woodley). After he finds out his wife was having an affair, Matt and his daughters then goes on a search to confront the man she was with as together, they try to wrestle with family demons.
What I Liked About It: The thing that I loved the most about this film was just how it realistically showcases the struggles of losing someone close to you. It not only portrays the heartbreak of it all, but it manages to touch upon the struggles of forgiving a loved one for whatever wrong they have done to you. This is something that people can very easily relate to as I'm sure plenty of people have been in the same position as the main characters. I also liked how the film has a neat balance of both comedy and drama. The film isn't overly dramatic yet it isn't doesn't go overboard with awkward humor at the wrong moments. That is pretty much life itself, as it has its depressing moments yet its fair share of light moments and I am quite pleased this won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Plus, the film's direction by Alexander Payne is brilliant, as he hardly cuts away when showing the more dramatic scenes to really allow the audience to grasp the film's realism. The way he directs this makes it hard to believe it is the same guy who did Election and Nebraska, since those two other films have slightly different directing styles, so he is really one to blend into his artistry.
Another thing I really liked was the acting from the cast. George Clooney really plays against type as he plays a rather less suave and uncharismatic family man and he does it brilliantly. Some of the actors, who don't have too much screen time, like Judy Greer, Beau Bridges, Robert Forster, and even Matthew Lillard, also really shine. But the one actress I would really love to talk about is Shailene Woodley who finds her breakthrough role as the rebellious daughter Alex. Wow, is she amazing in this! She really pulls off a character who has a tough exterior, but underneath that lies sadness and vulnerability. I would say her best scene is when she is tearfully breaking the news about her mother's infidelity. It's very heavy stuff. It definitely doesn't surprise me her future would become bright after this movie as she is a very talented gal.
What I Didn't Like About It:
Overall, The Descendants is a powerful humanistic drama about the horrors of slowly losing a loved one. It is brilliantly acted, well-written, and amazingly directed. This is one that I would highly recommend, whether you have lost a loved one or not. Those of you who haven't may learn to appreciate and forgive your loved ones after watching this movie. I rarely ever use this adjective to describe a film, but this film is just PERFECT.