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The Descendants

The Descendants: Oscar-Nominated Film about the Virtues of Forgiveness

  • Amara MillerGeorge Clooney...
  • ComedyDrama
  • Alexander Payne
reviewed by
Yasmin Shehab
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The Descendants: Oscar-Nominated Film about the Virtues of Forgiveness

Clooney stars as Matt King, a Hawaiian landowner and father of two whose
wife has slipped into a permanent coma after a boating accident. As a result,
this good-natured yet inattentive father now has to actually spend time with
his daughters, Alexandra (Woodley) and Scottie (Miller). His world comes
crashing down when Alexandra reveals that her mother had been cheating on him
prior to the accident with a guy named Brian Speer (Lillard). After tracking
down the guy on Kauai, Matt and the girls fly over to confront him about the
affair, and invite him to the hospital to pay his last respects before
they pull the plug.

Things become even stickier when business is added to the equation. Matt’s
family owns half a billion dollars worth of land on Kauai that they’re intent
on selling. Unluckily for them, though; he’s the sole trustee and thus the one
with all the power. Already conflicted about turning a beautiful stretch of
island into yet another resort, his misgivings are compounded when he finds out
that his wife’s lover stands to profit immeasurably from the impending sale.

As expected for a film set in Hawaii, the cinematography is absolutely
gorgeous. The stunning beaches and landscapes are completely taken advantage of
and coupled with the folksy soundtrack and dreary weather we’ve been having
lately, it will have you yearning to run off to the beach, stat. The shots show
off just how glorious nature is, and act as a solid argument against the land’s
sale and transformation into a tourist trap.

Acting-wise, this is Clooney and Woodley’s film. At the heart of the
film is how the mother’s accident manages to bring together this practically
estranged father-daughter duo. Matt is given a chance to become a more active
member of the family while Alexandra discovers that her dad may actually be
interested in getting to know her after all. Forgiveness is a big theme here.
Matt does his best to earn his daughters’ forgiveness while both he and
Alexandra try to excuse his wife for the affair. The amount of feelings going
around, the number of people talking to the corpse and the slow pace do
occasionally push the film into soap opera territory but to its credit, it
rarely veers into the melodramatic or sappy due mainly to the aforementioned

This is the kind of film that you put on when you have a big, diverse
group to entertain. It’s pleasantly entertaining, inoffensive, funny and absolutely
gorgeous; a crowd pleaser.

Like This? Try

Little Miss Sunshine, The Royal Tenenbaums, Up in the Air

360 Tip

The Descendants has been sweeping up awards left and right, the most notable of which is its two Golden Globes for Best Motion Picture and Best Actor.

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