Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Descendants

The Descendants had been on my radar for a while but George Clooney’s victory at the Golden Globes made me curious as there was nothing from the trailer to indicate that this film would be worthy of awards.

PLOT:  Matt King (George Clooney) is an absent husband and father but a successful lawyer.  After his wife Elizabeth is injured in a boating accident he is forced to deal with his daughters Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) and Scottie (Amara Miller).  It transpires that Elizabeth was having an affair with an Estate Agent so in true Hollywood fashion Matt leaves his wife’s deathbed and goes off, with his two daughters in tow, to confront his wife’s lover.  END PLOT

The absent father bonding with his estranged daughters was at times ridiculously contrived and and the addition of Alexandra’s stoner friend Sid (Nick Krause) meant that the tone occasionally flipped to an awkward comedy.

There were no particular scenes or moments which stood out and the dialogue didn’t dazzle; even the constant swearing, especially the over usage of that god awful word “twat” seemed forced.

One of the problems with The Descendants is that all the characters are incredibly unlikeable – Matt is an oblivious workaholic, Alexandra is a spoilt bratty teen, Elizabeth had an affair, Sid is in the wrong film, Brian is a sleazy estate agent and Judy Greer’s voice is like nails on a chalkboard. 

The only character I felt any sympathy for was Scott Thorson, (Robert Forster) Elizabeth’s father and yet he was made out to be the bad guy for telling Matt some well deserved home truths.  The only decent thing Matt did in the entire film was not tell Scott about his daughter’s affair.

George Clooney won the Golden Globe for his role as Matt King and no amount of complaining will ever change this.  Was it deserved?  No.  This is not because Michael Fassbender did not win but because it was no more or less than Clooney’s usual shtick - he was good but like everything about The Descendant’s it felt forced.

I watched The Descendants in a constant state of irritation and at the time I wasn’t sure why.  After sleeping on it I think it was because I was watching Hollywood’s expose on how it thinks everyday people deal with pending death. It may be how fictional Hawaiian families deal with death but in rainy, grey Ireland it couldn’t be further from the truth.

The Descendants is the first time that a topic which hits too close to home did not strike an emotional chord. 

My dislike for Clooney aside the subject matter alone should have made The Descendants an emotionally charged drama.   There is nothing bad about the film but there is nothing real about it either.  The Descendants gets a 6.5/10.  It will never be watched again.


  1. I'm really surprised as this is the 2nd bad review I've read for this, I kind of ambivalent about it now, might wait for video because I do enjoy Payne's previous films and I can admit to being a fan of Clooney.

  2. There was something about the film which really irritated me and I still don't know what it was!

    It's worth a look but it is most definitely overrated.

    Clooney is his usual self!

  3. I'll give it a run and see if I can put my finger on the irritant! ;-)