THE DESCENDANTS

People who think George Clooney is merely a pretty face who occasionally throws over his beautiful girlfriend for another one aren't paying attention. Mr. Clooney is a producer, a director and most impressively an actor. Last year he was largely overlooked in THE AMERICAN and was underrated in UP IN THE AIR the previous year. His latest demonstration of immense talent is THE DESCENDANTS. He plays Matt King a real estate lawyer in Hawaii who can trace his lineage back to King Kamehameha. His family is faced with a tragedy. His wife is critically injured in a boat accident, an injury that has put her in an irreversible coma. Matt is forced to get to know his daughters (Scottie and Alexandra) and tell friends and family his wife is going to die. Oh, and he finds out his wife was having an affair. And, he is dealing with a big family land sale that could add hundreds of millions of dollars to his fortune. This sounds like it could be a soap opera plot, or filled with treacle and melodrama. But, in the more than capable hands of Alexander Payne it never goes down that road. Serious, funny and surprising, this is real family drama. It is about dealing with reality in a real and honest way. The screenplay by Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash is wonderful and shooting in paradise adds to the feeling of tragedy. Clooney even says it in voice over near the beginning of the movie.. and I'm paraphrasing here.. bad stuff happens in paradise too. But good stuff happens on screen and look for THE DESCENDANTS to get a outrigger canoe full of nominations. All of them (and Clooney better get a Best Actor nod) richly deserved. — Alan Yudman

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