‘The Descendants’ is a story about modern day families. It is about how dysfunctional the families get and how clueless they are in their attempt to deal with the things that go wrong.
George Clooney is a Hawaii based lawyer, whose wife, Patricia Hastie is in a hospital as a result of a boat accident. He now has to take care of his two daughters, Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller, who have been disconnected from their father due to his hectic professional life. While on this emotionally horrendous phase, Clooney learns that his wife was cheating him and was seeing someone else. Things get worse but he also has to decide with his cousins if they should be selling off their family land.
On a level, it is emotionally draining. But, this movie doesn’t try to take a stand. It doesn’t preach ‘how to’. On top of that , the comic elements at every juncture of that journey that catch the audience by a pleasant surprise and gives instant chuckles. That is the best part of this smartly written movie.
Alexander Payne does an excellent job at managing all the parallel tracks well. It could have gone wrong with these many sub plots. But, it doesn’t feel like that one bit. The dialogues are straight out of real lives and nothing seems dramatic at all.The slow pace of narration goes well with the theme of the movie but still does not make the viewer conscious about it.
The performances by the lead actors are engrossing. Clooney does a remarkable job and doesn’t overdo his role even a wee bit. He has now done the ‘good acting’ part in many movies now but it still feels so amazing to watch him give that best shot at even regular sequences that would have gone unnoticed with many other actors. There are scenes in the movie that stay with you because of the brilliant performance by Clooney and the rest of the cast. I have to mention one scene that has got itself etched in my mind, the one where he makes an announcement to his wife’s friends about 'something important' at a party. As he bids good bye to everyone and turns around to get into his house again, there is a moment when it seems like everything else has vanished and he has nothing but his pain to deal with. He goes down on his knees and feels like he has lost a battle. The way that scene was done made me go ‘wow’ and at the same time created a ‘lump in the throat’ moment!
Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller are very good in their roles. They try to match up to Clooney and do a pretty good job at that. I would be surprised if Clooney and Shailene fail to fetch at least a few big award nominations for their performances. It is movie like these that an actor would love to see in his career retrospection and rightly so.
This movie is one of the best to have come out this year and has fetched/will continue to fetch tons of accolades. Don’t miss the better side of the Hollywood; watch ‘The Descendants’.