The Descendants (2011)

2016 #57
Alexander Payne | 110 mins | TV | 2.35:1 | USA / English | 15 / R

Comedy-drama starring George Clooney as a Hawaiian with family issues: his wife’s in a coma and may’ve been cheating; his daughters are unruly; and his extended family is considering a massive land sale that’s the talk of the islands.

Though marred by heavy-handed voice-over exposition (it baffles me that it won a Best Screenplay Oscar), it’s lifted by strong performances from the daughters (Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller) and Clooney, inverting his usual confident demeanour.

I guess “wry observations of middle-aged men in crisis” are Payne’s stock-in-trade. This one’s amiable, though (writing with three months’ perspective) perhaps a tad forgettable.

4 out of 5

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4 thoughts on “The Descendants (2011)

  1. Ha, I watched this ages ago and pretty instantly forgot it, and here you are commenting the same, pretty much. I guess it was harmless, but its also one of those films that I really can’t see myself ever watching again. Life is too short (well, it certainly is when you’re as old as me).

    Ahem. No, I really haven’t gotten over Jaws being 41 years old yesterday.

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    • It’s kind of funny how much time and effort go in to producing films, and then we spend just a couple of hours watching them and, in most cases, that’s it. I suppose that’s true of all art, but it’s kind of amazing how much thought and endeavour can go in to something that’s ultimately disposable.

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      • ,,,and yet sometimes there are films where some kind of magic happens, and you can watch them over and over. When I was younger back in the VHS days, I must have watched and rewatched films like the Star Wars OT, Blade Runner, Conan, more times than is possibly healthy. I don’t find myself rewatching films anything like I used to. Too many new films I guess, but no single film captures my imagination like they used to, or demands a rewatch the next night etc. I can still rewatch those old uns but nothing new really engages me like that anymore.

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        • I think that’s why they keep making them, and why we keep watching them!

          It’s both the blessing and the curse of the current era how accessible films are, and it’s going to get better/worse with streaming becoming increasingly prominent — how much easier must it be to bung a film up on a server vs. all the costs & sales needs of producing a DVD/Blu-ray. It must be absolutely incredible nowadays to be a fan of just one niche (for want of a better word) of moviedom — Hollywood studios may be getting even more tunnel-visioned about which classic movies they’ll put on disc, but the smaller companies are putting out so much stuff in which ever realm interests you: classic Hollywood, classic arthouse, modern arthouse (both of which you could split endlessly by country), anime, film noir, giallo, Cannon-type stuff, etc, etc, etc… For almost whatever niche you like, you can dive deep into it, rather than just settle for the most acclaimed or famous films. But if you like Film as a whole in all its various forms, dear God there’s a lot!

          I guess we’re spoilt to complain, but still, there’ll never be enough time (or money) for everything interesting.

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