Sunday, 26 February 2012

REVIEW: The Descendants

Will Academy Golden Boy Clooney Do It Again?

A lot of people have asked me what I thought of this film and if you can't be bothered to read the below then I can sum it up in one word - "Alright".

For more greater detail on why, let's just say it's another Clooney vehicle. People might say how the focus should be on Payne and they are correct. However, I'm just not a huge fan of his. People writing reviews in magazines (the ones that get paid to write and get loads of time to do it and rarely know what they are talking about etc. - not bitter of course) have been writing love letters to Payne saying how they missed his work and it's been ages since his last film. You know why it's been ages? Because he's been spending that time working on Hung - a TV series I've neither seen or had the inclination to see.

Anyway, off the point, Sideways was a good movie - but I felt it was Giamatti who really made it. Payne's shtick of a 'journey' both literally and metaphorically is so cliched that it's tough to enjoy one film about it. Let alone three. I thought his true masterpiece was the largely undervalued Election and would gladly watch that again than watch this. However, time and time again he does seem to like the mid-life crisis of American males. It's just nothing new and Descendants is proof of this.

George Clooney plays a man whose wife is in critical condition. At the same time his large extended family have a huge deal in place with him at the centre of selling off some family plot. The painstakingly obvious idea of family is never buried within the story, it's clear as day - the land is a metaphor for his family. He won't 'give it up'. It's almost embarrassing to watch. As he delves a little deeper, he finds out his wife was cheating on him so makes it a task to find the people close to her, including the other man in her life. In a way, she has brought the family closer together than she perhaps ever could have done in life. It's a sad tale but one that is full of melancholy, a Payne favourite.

A lot of people describe this as a comedy, it's not. It's full of some weird funny awkward moments and Clooney's warmth shines through as he clearly understands the character, but Oscar worthy? Seriously? It's a completely forgettable film with some okay performances. The little girl is annoying, the teenager's boyfriend even more annoying (a male teenager from the Nineties it seems indicating Payne is quite out of touch) and the peripheral characters not really even worth mentioning. There are some touching, tender moments but with the amount of quality that was produced in the latter half of last year, this should be buried somewhat, not leading the pack.

The bit I really enjoyed the most was the end. A quiet, thoughtful, unassuming look at the family who are now sitting down and facing us, a role reversal to presume that it is now our turn to live our lives, tell our stories and get on with everything. It's simplicity is a touch of genius but something that can't save the entire film.

It's George Clooney being George Clooney (has he had work done?) in another slow, character led piece.

Good, but by no means great, or even fantastic.

Rating: 6/10

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