‘The Descendants‘ is the new movie from director and writer Alexander Payne, his first directorial outing since Sideways in 2004. The film deals with property tycoon Matt King’s attempts to keep his extended family together as he deals with the consequences of his wife’s grave injuries in a boating accident, all set against a beautiful Hawaiian backdrop.
I hate to gush but this is a finely crafted relationship movie – George Clooney in the lead role as the flawed but ultimately caring father is masterful (much like a fine wine he is definitely improving with age), and the ensemble cast gathered around him is perfect. It takes no mental effort whatsoever to believe that the group of people that you see on screen are a closely connected family unit. Shailene Woodley, who plays feisty and independent eldest daughter Alexandra, gives a particularly stand-out performance and the part of awkward and gangly Sid, Alexandra’s love interest (actor Nick Krause), is very skillfully written. He goes from minor annoyance at the beginning of the movie to an indispensable part of the family by the end – the brief and rather awkward scene between him and Mr King where they discuss their respective family tragedies is particularly touching, in fact its possibly the best scene in the film.
The Descendants can be uncomfortable to watch at times – there’s absolutely no sugar-coating when it deals with the raw emotions aroused by the difficult subjects of death and infidelity, but its definitely one to watch. If you don’t catch it in the cinema then you should definitely grab it on disk or on one of the streaming services and watch it curled up on the sofa with a glass of wine or two. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there’s an Oscar in it for one of the lead characters next awards season. It really is that good.