That’s what I wondered after the first 15 minutes of The Descendents. Even though the opening scene has George Clooney disclaiming the myth of Hawaii as a perfect paradise, it’s hard to let go of our illusions or delusions for that matter.
There have been so many rave reviews about this movie already, I’m not sure what my two cents could possibly add. Many reviewers have been citing Clooney’s performance as his best yet. I had heard that before I saw the movie and attributed it to the usual hype. I thought George was great in Michael Clayton, Good Night and Good Luck and Syrianna. However, those movies were big Hollywood production and his characters were big. The Descendents, seemed more like a small movie, not quite and Indie but other than the panoramic shots of Hawaii, we watched an intimate movie. Actor Clooney showed us a wide range of emotions mostly played out on his face. He truly seemed to embody the character of Matt King.
Special note should be given to the young actress, Shailene Woodley. Most of her prior acting experience has been as a lead character on the TV series, The Secret Life of an American Teenager. She is confident, fresh and handles herself with great ease in the presence of a star, and is able to hold her own in every scene. I think an Oscar nomination might be in her very near future!
The story itself is poignant at times, a little slow at times and as directed by Alexander Payne, I felt I was watching one part About Schmidt and one part of the eternally long novel, Hawaii by Mitchner. It was beautifully acted, the portrayal of the human condition handled exquisitely by Clooney.