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The Descendants - My Review

Updated on July 2, 2012

How would you rate the movie?

3.8 out of 5 stars from 5 ratings of The Descendants

George Clooney

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I have seen a great many movies over the years and was at one time a Film Festival enthusiast. I guess you could say that I have become rather jaded because I am increasingly critical of movies made over the last few decades. I have also become tired of remakes when earlier movies captured a timeless quality often not achieved today, what with over-the-top special effects and futuristic films which are crowded with action and words and generally filled with doom and gloom, fail to deliver anything with depth or insight.

It is with sheer delight, therefore, that I viewed “The Descendants,” a film from Alexander Payne. This movie was nominated for five Academy Awards and I was convinced that George Clooney would win the Best Actor category, but I believe he was totally overlooked when he gave what I believe is a stunning performance, yet did not win. This movie did, however, win an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay; nevertheless, I still feel that Clooney should have walked away with an Oscar for his performance and that this film should also have garnered awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Soundtrack.

Hawaii

Polynesian Archipelago
Polynesian Archipelago | Source

Watch it again and again...

There are not too many films I am interested in viewing multiple times, but this movie is definitely one of them. I was immediately seduced by the beautiful archipelago of Hawaiian Islands which lie in the middle of the great Pacific Ocean! I had previously only been aware of Hawaii as a holiday destination and this film gave me a far greater insight into this island chain. The magnificence of this most recent American state is showcased by Payne’s laid back film direction and wistfully beautiful images punctuated by mellifluous and soulful Hawaiian music with which I was previously totally unfamiliar!

Without giving too much away, I want to write about the impact this story had on me emotionally. The head of the family, Matt King, finds his life, and that of his two daughters, in turmoil, due to a boating accident that leaves his wife in a coma. Additionally, Matt is the trustee to 25000 acres of pristine undeveloped Polynesian land that was left to the family and which the majority of the family would like to see sold for prime beachfront development, thereby making millions. While Matt struggles to reach a decision whether to sell the family’s land which had been handed down from Hawaiian royalty and Missionaries in their family, he tries to figure out how to do the right thing not only for his family, but for all Hawaiians in the state. As his wife, Elizabeth’s life hangs in the balance, Matt and his daughters grapple with these life-changing events.

Kauai

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Great performances from the cast

I was greatly impressed with the performance of Shailene Woodley as Matt’s rebellious 17-year-old daughter, Alexandra, and Amara Miller as Scottie, the 10-year-old daughter who acts out. Their emotional honesty was impressive and they were both sensitive and spunky and gave excellent performances. Nick Krause, who plays the role of Alexandra’s friend, Sid, was unexpectedly delightful.

Clooney handled the role of Matt gently and expertly. As the decision maker and head of the household, thrust into a role he is largely unfamiliar with, and experiencing his own loss and anguish, I was impressed by the fact that his actions were largely selfless as he strived to do the right thing despite his own emotional upheaval. Matt never lashes out and it was a touching moment when his daughters and Sid jump to his defense when he is verbally harangued by Elizabeth’s grief-stricken but crusty father.

Integrity strengthens relationships

Matt handles a variety of difficult situations with dignity and restraint and retains an integrity which is all too often not found today. The specter of betrayal and the concept of honor emerge as these characters share this journey of troubled and broken relationships, through choices that need to be made and bonds that are strengthened and knit back together during the process.

With images of the turquoise ocean in its sparkling clarity, the balmy tropical breezes blowing and the gentle guitar and haunting vocals playing in the background, this story seduces from beginning to end. For me, it showcased how it is possible for people to express their feelings in a dignified manner and to eventually reach a stage of acceptance, thereby mending relationships by doing so and being able to begin the process of healing.

Sunset over Kona

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    • Suelynn profile image
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      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Hi Mary615, I absolutely agree, George is a hunk! I am so glad we feel the same way about The Descendants! Thank you for appreciating my pics, I am still feeling out what's allowed and what falls foul of copyright rules. :) I greatly appreciate your vote and sharing. Thank you.

      Hi Moonlake: I have no doubt that you will enjoy the movie! I really did - more than once. I have heard a number of people saying they did not enjoy Magic Mike... I'm wondering whether I should even give it a try... possibly not... there are quite a few offerings that interest me at the moment. Thanks so much for your comments and votes. :)

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 5 years ago from America

      I haven't seen this movie but I will now. Anything has to be better than Magic Mike. Hated that movie.

      Great hub voted up.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      I'm been in love with George Clooney since his days on ER. What a hunk!! I loved this movie..in fact, I could see it again. I enjoyed your choice of photos to go with the review, too.

      I voted this UP and will share.

    • Suelynn profile image
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      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Hey Jools99 and TToombs08: Wouldn't it be fun if we could all watch it together? You're both lucky because you have a treat in store for you! Jools, I would LOVE to visit Hawaii. Thank you both for such lovely comments - I sure do appreciate them. :)

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 5 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      I haven't gotten a chance to watch this movie, but now I want to even more. Great review! Thank you!

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      Sue, I have this on DVD and have yet to watch it - I think I may watch it this week after your great review. The photos are lovely too - I have always wanted to go to Hawaii.

    • Suelynn profile image
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      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      xstatic: Thank you so much for saying! I loved the movie and will probably want my own copy. George is fabulous and after I saw "The Artist," confirmed my opinion that he should have walked away with the Oscar! Up In the Air was quite hard-hitting, but George always handles his roles well. I am grateful for your comments. :)

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 5 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      This is one of my favorite movies for sure and I look forward to seeing again. Clooney is one of my favorite actors. I really enjoyed his portrayal of this character as well as his role in Up In the Air, and many more. You wrote a great review here.

    • Suelynn profile image
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      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Angela Brummer, thank you for commenting. Who could go wrong with Clooney? Visuals of him never disappoint! :)

    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 5 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      Really great article with many beautiful visuals including Clooney. :)

    • Suelynn profile image
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      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Hi Reviewsfromkkyle, I assume you meant to say Suelynn? :) Thanks much for your comments, I do appreciate them.

      Rose West: I appreciate your comments so much and really did get a feel for Hawaii, so it is nice to read that they did an authentic job in the movie. How cool to see George Clooney filming! :))))

    • Rose West profile image

      Rose West 5 years ago from Michigan

      Good job on this review! It's interesting to hear your perspective, because living here in Hawaii makes this movie feel pretty realistic. I like how the story emphasizes that Hawaii isn't just a vacation spot - it's filled with real people living real lives. I saw George Clooney once when they were filming in my neighborhood - it was pretty cool :)

    • Reviewsfromkyle profile image

      Reviewsfromkyle 5 years ago from Dryden, Ny

      Sunshine625, that was a very detailed review and enjoyed reading it.

    • Suelynn profile image
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      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Sunshine625, I will if you will! Here's to Georgie-Boy! Cheers! :))))

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Happy 51st Birthday George!!! We should all have some fine wine to celebrate;)

    • Suelynn profile image
      Author

      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Thanks so much, Sunshine625... just as I said before, your name suits you so well. :)))) Enjoy the rest of the weekend and remember to look at the sky tonight... supposed to be a Supermoon! Full and in perigee!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I popped back in to rate the movie, I wasn't able to do so via my phone. I gave it 5 stars. I also pinned it and shared on Facebook:)

    • Suelynn profile image
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      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Sunshine625, thank you SO much for saying! :)))) That makes me so happy to hear and I'm glad that you noticed that I tried to give as little away as possible. I don't like movie spoilers! I hope many people enjoy it and that the movie is a big success. xx

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Outstanding review for a superb movie. I saw the movie and you didn't give too much info away. I think you enhanced the movie and more people would be interested in watching it just in case they haven't yet. Well done!!

    • Suelynn profile image
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      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Hi Adele, thank you so much for your kind comments. I am so glad we share the same opinions and happy I have inspired you to see this movie. I look forward to hearing what you think of it. Enjoy! :)

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      Adele 5 years ago

      Well written review. I resonated with your reflections on the state of movies in recent years. Your in-depth analysis and personal reflections inspired me to want to see this movie. Thanks and good luck with your writing.It's wonderful.

    • Suelynn profile image
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      Suelynn 5 years ago from Manitoba, Canada

      Thank you for the heads-up and the interest. I have been dying to get some feedback as it is the first time I have "officially" done a movie review. A few of my FB friends read it but didn't comment except to say that one of the men didn't like the movie at all, and one of the women felt exactly the same way about it. I found that quite interesting. I appreciate your message very much, Neil. Great big hug! :)

    • Neil Sperling profile image

      Neil Sperling 5 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

      Well done. Your review is very detailed and delightfully descriptive. Personalizing the message and sharing some nice pictures. Good job!