Monday, December 5, 2011

The Descendants (2011)

 If you read my post yesterday, you will remember that I said I was going to stay home and do bookish things.  News flash...I did not.  Instead I did a little shopping, lunch and a movie with my parents.  I was all jacked up because I thought "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" was out, but unfortunately I am a week early.  The only other movie that I deemed worth our time and money was The Descendants.

The Descendants has gotten a serious amount of Oscar Buzz in just about every major category.  This is going to be THE movie to see over the next few months, with good reason.  Plus, let's face it.  What on earth could be bad when it involves Hawaii and George Clooney?

Matthew King (Clooney) is a dispirited, over-worked real estate attorney whose marriage was starting to fall apart when his wife was in a boating accident and rendered comatose.  They have two daughters, one 17 and one 10, both with various emotional issues due to their mother's illness.  King attempts to deal with his two children who, for all intents and purposes, are strangers to him, and in the process learns that his wife may have been unfaithful.  King takes his children (and a stoner boyfriend) to Kauai to track down the rat bastard that was sleeping with his wife, and in return gets a little more than he expects.

At the same time, King and his dozens of cousins, all descendants of royalty in Hawaii, must decide whether or not to sell 24,000 acres of prime island real estate that will make them all rich beyond their dreams.

    


If you think I have just gone and spoiled the whole movie for you, please know that there is so much more going on here than what I have described.  This movie is full of some really big issues, all so emotionally-wrought and heart-breakingly real that by the ending credits, my stomach hurt from the clenching.

So it isn't all shits and giggles here.  But it is some really fine acting, not only from Clooney, who may well nab a prize in the Best Actor category, but from Shailene Woodley in her first full-length movie role.  It may not be the best film to see if you are feeling particularly fragile (especially since they are showing the trailer to Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close prior, Lord help me).  And there is a warm little surge of hope at the end. 

Which, to me, was so typical of Alexander Payne.  I absolutely loved his directorial work in Sideways.  And while there is a significant dose of anguish in that movie, you also laugh, and there is that last scene that I will never forget.  One that makes you nod your head and say "OK, the tormented guy now gets how to live.  There is peace".  Payne has brought those same emotions to this movie as well. 

Lastly, there is Hawaii.  Beautiful, exotic, lush Hawaii, with its haunting music and loud shirts.  It was a dichotomy...all this suffering with a backdrop of natural beauty. It went a little way to soothe my ragged soul. 

Well, a movie reviewer I am not, but I hope I adequately expressed what a gem of a movie this is.  Strengthen yourself, and go see it.  And prepared to be touched.      

19 comments:

bermudaonion said...

My movie friend and I are anxious to see this one and we've been told it won't get here until Jan 12, so we're heading to see Hugo tomorrow. I can't wait to tell her you said this movie is so good!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I really want to see this one too! For some reason we always sort of "forget" to go to the movies as an option for something to do. Weird.

Meg said...

This isn't one I might have rushed out to see on my own, but you've definitely piqued my interest! Though I don't share the diehard Clooney love others seem to share, he is a talented actor.

Melissa said...

I usually like George Clooney, but this one has been all over the Ds blogs, and not because they like the movie. While the rest of the movie may be great, I refuse to support anyone that makes my girl a punchline.

Zibilee said...

I had not known much about this movie before reading this post, but you really sold me on checking it out! I have a friend who I go see movies with in the afternoon when the week gets a little boring, and this sounds like it would be great for us to check out sometime soon. We generally tend to see lighter stuff, but I am totally sure she would go for this one. Great review today. I can't wait to see what I think!

Anita said...

I was so hoping to read a favorable review of this movie. I was so sad when I saw Clooney in The American, ugh it was slow and not good.
Often movies with critical acclaim and Oscar hype are not that entertaining to me, but this one sounds very good. I'll be getting hubs on board to go see this one soon.
Thanks Sandy.

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

The previews have really been pulling me in. I will hopefully get to see it in the theaters, but I tend to always wait for a movie on Netflix. Partly because I end up bawling like a baby, and well. You just can't do that with strangers around you.

Jenners said...

This is on the short list of movies I want to try and see this holiday! I'm so excited that "real" person whose opinion I respect loved it too … and not just EW!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I've been really interested to see if this one was good. I'm so glad it didn't disappoint. I think I'll be checking it out.

Jenny said...

I sooo want to see this so I'm so glad to hear it's good!! I like Shailene from The Secret Life of the American Teenager, lol, and I heard she's really good in this movie. And AHH I cannot wait for EL&IC!!

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

I am glad to hear you enjoyed this. The trailer has caught my eye. I loved George Clooney as a dad in One Fine Day so I am anxious to see him play a dad again.

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

Sandy!! How incredible are you!!! I just ripped into my Secret Santa package like a crazed woman and am beside myself with GLEE!!!! Layla is running around squeaking on her fox as well!!!!!!! You are soooooooo sweet!!!!!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!!!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

We KNEW you wouldn't stay home and relax!!

And, what does that mean "it isn't all shits and giggles"? Urban dictionary is no help to this old fuddy duddy.

softdrink said...

Who woulda thunk? I thought this was just some piece of fluff (you know, since it stars Clooney...who was brilliant in all the Oceans movies, but now I always think of him in those types of roles).

And I can't believe Dawn doesn't know shits and giggles!! I grew up with that phrase.

Danielle said...

Great! I've just mentioned this one too... did you see the other day that I credited you in a post, for bringing 'Hugo' to my attention?

http://bookorbigscreen.blogspot.com/2011/11/hugo-gift-of-sensory-experience.html

Beth F said...

I've got the audio of this one -- I have some time to listen to it before the movie gets here -- likely in 2012. I AM a huge Clooney fan so this was a no-brainer. In addition, I lived in Hawaii for a while in the late 1970s and used to know quite a bit about the history of the descendants. That mixed with the family dynamics -- I know I'm going to love this.

caite said...

George looks so good in the commercials for this one.
But I just have a problem believing anyone would be unfaithful to him...look at him!
will have to put this one on the list for sure.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Aha! Now I've been educated ... Kind of like my mother used to say "for kicks" :)

Ti said...

This sounds wonderful! You mentioning it is the first I've even heard of it. I think most people consider Clooney to be a big hunk of eye candy but that guy can act. I've always liked him.