REVIEW: The Descendants

As you will very easily recognize from the theatrical trailer as well when watching the feature film itself, The Descendants really is your typical Hollywood bait as it consists of heart-breaking and thought-provoking emotion, personal connections between characters, some light-hearted humour and the wide variety of shots featuring beautiful landscapes. Plus, the fact that it stars a Hollywood gem – George Clooney, and both directed and co-written by Alexander Payne, who has made his first major project since 2004 comedy-drama Sideways. So, as a result of these, expectations were high and after watching it, The Descendants turned out a genuinely heartfelt film, not only about family and love but also loosely about revenge and justice that could lead you to tears.

The Descendants involves various beautiful landscape shots of Hawaii and as well as having its very emotional story, it makes it look a divine charm that adds lots of natural beauty and innocence to it. Plus, there are some moments that do consist of some humourous moments that’ll make you laugh. However, despite having its dazzling and friendly aspects, it does have its occasional dark tones too such as tremendous amounts of stress between the characters and also some suspenseful segments especially when on the search for Speer and having almost no idea how Matt is going to approach the situation and what he is going to say. It is in no way classed as a thriller, but having mixed emotion, beauty and tension into one and still managing to have its very tender and heart-breaking message, we are bought with something very special which is what we have with The Descendants.

After his tremendous work in comedy-drama Sideways and having that on his shoulders, Alexander Payne returns to another Oscar buzzing comedy-drama that has almost all particular emotional aspects with its light and dark tones and balances it all absolutely brilliantly! This guy really knows how to make people laugh, how to take his audiences on adventures, make them feel attached to what’s going on and to the characters and to these dark characteristics to them that we haven’t fully seen of him just yet and should like to see in the near future. Due to his fabulous directing ability, he doesn’t write the screenplays for his films alone. He has mostly collaborated with Jim Taylor, but The Descendants became the first film without Taylor as he works alongside Nat Faxon and Jim Rash. Together, the trio write a script that is easily worthy of winning the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

See, here’s the thing about George Clooney: in every film you’d see that he’s in, you’d always just expect him to just be George Clooney due to his frequent ladies-man and charming performances that we have seen from him over the years that has set his status as a Hollywood symbol. After his most recent Oscar nominated performances in 2009’s Up In The Air and 2007’s Michael Clayton, he goes somewhere totally different this time as we see a rather strong, angry and yet a rather vulnerable and emotionally-confused Clooney. His role is genuinely effective towards the audience as we are literally standing in his shoes by going down his road of emotional suffering but also his other path of revenge. So, Clooney definitely gives one of his greatest performances of his career and whatever he’ll be in the future will be difficult to beat this one.

Alongside Clooney comes along a trio of young newcomers who have suddenly risen to fame in The Descendants. Firstly, there’s 20 year old Shailene Woodley who gave an absolutely amazing performance as Alex. Her performance expressed the emotionally broken aspects of a young girl growing out of being a cute, innocent child into becoming a beautiful, sexy woman. Plus, there was something occasionally sadistic and rebellious about Alex as she desires to find the man who had an affair with her mother behind her father’s back and wants him to suffer for what he had done. Woodley was literally robbed of an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress but there is no denying that her role is still another truly fantastic young actor/actress performance to remember. Secondly, Amara Miller makes her feature film debut as Scottie King who is someone that you’d generally call a problem child and in some ways resembles Chloe Grace Moretz in Kick-Ass. Nick Krause also makes his presence known as Alex’s at-first arrogant but later on nice “friend” Sid in his satisfying and rather pleasant role.

Overall, The Descendants is a very tender and genuine story mixing the natural beauty of Hawaii and relationships between families that leaves the all-important message: to always stand as a family in order to go through any crucial changes that occur in natural every-day life. This rightfully deserves all the Oscar fame that it has received and could walk away with a various number of awards upcoming. It is very important to know that The Descendants really isn’t for the faint-hearted and will take you on an emotional journey that is bound to make one cry and will leave you jaw-dropped as the ending credits roll.


~ by SJMJ91 on 15/05/2012.

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