Friday, November 18, 2011

The Descendants

George Clooney plays an affluent man living in Hawaii.  But his life is far from paradise.  His wife is in a coma from a recent boating accident.  And his two daughters are both distant and acting out.  And when he finds out his wife isn't coming back, he needs to tell her friends and family so that they may say their proper farewells before she goes.

This is the first film from director Alexander Payne since his success with 'Sideways' in 2004, for which he won Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars.  Like in that film he balances drama and comedy here perfectly, although the drama in this one is much heavier and much more poignant.  Payne really hit the mark in every way, particularly in casting Clooney as the lead and in choosing Hawaii as the location, which became a central character for the movie, just as wine country was in 'Sideways'.  And the whole cast is perfect.  Clooney is at the top of his game, playing a much more relatable every-man role than his equally impressive performance as a slick politician in 'The Ides of March'.  He consistently proves he's worth every bit of his status and reputation in Hollywood as a movie star and a true actor.  And the rest of the unlikely cast including Judy Greer, Beau Bridges, Matthew Lillard, Robert Forster, and two relative unknowns, Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller, are all pitch perfect.  Quite simply, this is one of the best films of the year and likely to score an Oscar Best Picture nomination.  Go see it if you're ready to laugh and cry.

Grade: A+

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