Monday, 30 January 2012
REVIEW: THE DESCENDANTS
Trouble In Paradise.
115 Minutes. Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Beau Bridges, Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard, Amara Miller & Robert Forster. Director: Alexander Payne. Screenplay: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon& Jim Rash
This could be it. This could finally be the movie that garners George Clooney the 'Best Actor Oscar' this coming February that he so richly deserves. The legendary actor/Cary Grant of our time that gave us the classics 'Michael Clayton', 'Up In The Air' and the more recent 'The Ides Of March' really has acted in the perfect picture with 'The Descendants'. A film set in the private and peaceful Hawaii centered around the personal wars of family, business and love.
"My friends on the mainland think just because I live in Hawaii, I'm in paradise" Clooney's character says to start the film, but we begin to see and believe that there's much more lying underneath. What we know is that this leading man's wife is on life support and not as close to her husband as originally thought. What's more is our man of the moment is now left holding the kids, with whom he has even less of a relationship with. What this gives us is not a film about neglect and hate, but more a character study of love and devotion, which is complexly humble and simply beautiful.
'About Schmidt' and 'Sideways' director Alexander Payne understands the more human side of movies again. With another hit he brings the hurt and pain, and the joy and healing perfectly as him and Clooney delve into the depths of human nature and emotion with sublime subtly but direct distinction. This is no Hollywood gloss, it's cinematic class. Hawaii provides the perfect contrasting backdrop for a film that deals with some ugly truths but deals with them with dignity and poise, resulting in a perfectly beautiful message. The film is also subtly scored sweetly with some beautiful Hawaiian music. It's one Israel Kamakawiwo'ole version of 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' away from being the most sensational soundtrack of sounds echoing over the celluloid.
From wayward kids to ones that are going places and stunning backdrops to sobering inner city images this film shows both sides of the coin and this pays off in full. Not only is it one of Payne's most polarising pictures it's also the performance Clooney needed just to show us how good he really is. He adds a different take to his formidable filmography and bares all his emotion and ours, from the subtle grimaces to the lack of dry eyes in the house. This is a second career making, mesmerizing job done with distinction from a modern great. One who could have retired before this and still been heralded, but now had proved himself wrong that he's running out of time and interest. Clooney is back on top. Gong or not.
You need to get to theatres and cinemas quickly to see a five time Academy nominated moving movie that will resonate long after all the Oscars have been polished off. With great support from people we know (Beau Bridges, Robert Forster and Matthew Lillard) to those we're getting to know (Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller who play our characters daughters with pride) this film tops the rest. With some classy comedic moments that ease the tension but do not cheapen the tone, this movie breaks the seriousness of life to us with care and compassion. 'The Descendants' is ready for ascension in the movie ranks. This slow burner is a fast learner, thought provoking and nostalgia inducing. From generation to generation everyone will get his film. After all it's about family and love. Now what's more important than that? TIM DAVID HARVEY.