Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Descendants

An successor in a royal Hawaiian lineage and trustee to a mass and beautiful landscape is about to broker a major deal when his wife is critically injured in a boating accident. Now responsible for his two troubled daughters, he tries to make peace with this personal tragedy while navigating the astonishing landscape of the Aloha State. "The Descendants" is the latest offering from Alexander Payne, one of our most brilliant auteurs ("Election", "About Schmidt", "Sideways"), who again captures an impeccably realized story about a man on the verge of emotional collapse. In one of his most nuanced and finely tuned performances, George Clooney plays a man undergoing a well of emotions during the course of an often brutal journey of personal discovery. In support, Shailene Woodley is excellent as his eldest daughter, whose  growth throughout the film is equally remarkable. Robert Forster is perfectly realized as well in a small but powerful role as Clooney's father-in-law. One of the elements that makes Payne's films so effective and touching is that we never quite know where the story is going to take us, and while he takes us to unexpected and vivid places, the characters we journey with and meet along the way seem so vibrant and true.