Reviews

Rashid Irani's review: The Descendants

  • The Descendants

    Hollywood stars gathered at the premiere night of the movie, The Descendants at the Samuel Goldwyn theatre in Beverly Hills, California.

  • The Descendants

    Model Cindy Crawford along with her husband Rande Gerber arrives at the premiere.

  • The Descendants

    Cast member Shailene Woodley poses on the red carpet.

  • The Descendants

    Cast member Matthew Lillard gives a no smile look.

  • The Descendants

    Woodley waves at the public as she poses for lensmen at the premiere.

  • The Descendants

    George Clooney mingles with his girlfriend Stacy Keibler on the red carpet.

  • The Descendants

    Beau Bridges, a cast member poses with his wife Wendy and daughter Emily.

  • The Descendants

    Alexander Payne, writer/director of The Descendants, poses with cast members Shailene Woodley and George Clooney.

  • The Descendants

    Cast members George Clooney and Shailene Woodley along with the director of the movie Alexander Payne. 

The Descendants
Direction: Alexander Payne
Actors: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley
Rating: ****

The fifth feature by Alexander Payne (whose earlier films Citizen Ruth, Election, About Schmidt and Sideways were never released here), The Descendants is an indelible portrait of loss and self-discovery. Based on the acclaimed debut novel by the Hawaiian author Kaui Hart Hemmings, the serio-comic family drama focuses on a prosperous middle-aged lawyer (Clooney).

The sole trustee of a vast plot of land inherited from his descendants, the attorney is thrust into unfamiliar terrain when his wife falls into an irreversible coma after a boating accident. A self-confessed "back-up parent, an understudy", the absentee dad must now not only take care of his two young daughters (Woodley-Amara Miller, both sufficiently sassy) but also cope with the discovery that his wife was cheating on him.

More character-than-plot driven, the script dexterously blends humour with heartache as the lawyer sets out to track down his wife's lover. Among the horde of flawed and funny subsidiary characters, there's the elder sibling's doofus  boyfriend (Nick Krause), an avaricious cousin (Beau Bridges) intent on selling the ancestral property and a doddering father-in-law (old-timer Robert Forster, superb) who barely comprehends the domestic crisis.

Several aspects of the film enthrall the heart and the mind. Consider the much-anticipated confrontation scene which culminates with the cuckolded husband kissing the adulterer's spouse (Judy Greer) gently on her lips. The beauty of the Hawaiian setting is captured (courtesy Phedon Papamichael) without the usual touristy trappings. As good as the writing and direction are, it's Clooney's persuasively subtle characterisation which dominates the show. Oscar ahoy? Intelligent, assured and affecting, The Descendants is a must-experience.

 

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