Thursday 2 February 2012
The Descendants 
Alexander Payne returned to the director’s chair for a feature film a good seven years after his last film, Sideways, with this one, but the end product is a proof of the fact that he hasn’t really lost any of his touch. The Descendants, which is a movie about one man’s vain attempts at coping with loss, tragedy and infidelity, that, despite its seriocomic tone, is filled with warmth, poignancy and a certain degree of exuberance – and this makes this film quite unique in his filmography since Payne is mostly associated with biting satires. Matt King (George Clooney) is a well-off Hawaiian workaholic who is on the threshold of earning millions by selling a piece of real estate. However, he’s struck by tragedy when his wife becomes comatose after a boat accident, which gets further amplified when he learns that his wife was having an affair behind his back. The fact that he has never spent much time with his two daughters, especially his teenage daughter who has had some issues with addiction, has made his situating that much more delicate and difficult. George Clooney has given a gently affecting and restrained performance as a family man who seems to be at his wit’s end at the sudden turn of events. Payne underscored most of the dramatic moments as a result of which one might feel a tad hoodwinked from the standpoint of the film’s emotional content, and neither did he take us to any great depths so to speak; but he also interjected the film’s rather serious theme with moments of wry humour and subtle jabs at social mores which nicely complemented both the pathos and the few moments of contentedness that the characters experience.
Director: Alexander Payne
Genre: Drama/Comedy/Family Drama