George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller
R*; 115 minutes
March 13, 2012
IMDb; BluRay & DVD on Amazon; Amazon Instant Video
I'll be the first to admit that after seeing a few episodes of The Secret Life of the American Teenager I wasn't quite sure about all of the praise Shailene Woodley was getting for The Descendants. Nothing against her, really. I just see the show as incredibly melodramatic (maybe I haven't seen enough) and not of the same caliber as what they were talking about with The Descendants.
After seeing The Descendants, though, I can say that regardless of what I think about Woodley in Secret Life, she's amazing in the film. Pretty much everyone is, actually.
The Descendants, stars George Clooney as Matt King a Hawaiian lawyer - and land owner - who's wife is in a coma and on life support after a boating accident. It takes his teenage daughter, Alexandra (played by Woodley) to bring to his attention that his wife was having an affair.
Alexandra, the troubled older daughter, has been away at boarding school, but King doesn't seem to know much more about his ten-year-old daughter Scottie's life, either. As he attempts to repair his relationship with his daughters, he also has to cope with the possibility that his wife may not wake up from her coma.
All of that sounds dark and hard to deal with, but The Descendants is incredibly funny. And not inappropriately so, either. It's brilliant in dealing with this flawed (almost, at times, non-existent) parental relationship Clooney's character has with his daughters.
What's also fantastic is that George Clooney looks tired and a little worn out. Right? Who would ever think George Clooney looking tired would be a good thing but it is. He doesn't have his classic, handsome, movie star look throughout this movie and it's what's needed for this character. He's a guy trying to deal with his two daughters (that he does not know how to deal with) and figure out what's happening with his dying wife. He does not need to look rested and refreshed.
The Descendants is based on the novel of the same name by Kaui Hart Hemmings and while I wasn't sure about wanting to read the book before I saw the movie, I very much do now. (Something that very, very rarely happens.)
This is a movie I absolutely recommend (if there was a link here, sorry - the internet and I don't agree when the 18th is, it seems).
*the R rating is for language (mostly) and 'some sexual references'
huge thank you to Fox & Think Jam for my copy of this to review