The Descendants

Rated R 115 minutes 2011

A major triumph for both director Alexander Payne and actor George Clooney, who plays a well-off Honolulu businessman with big decisions to make after an accident leaves his wife in a coma. The emotional and ethical progress of “back-up parent” Matt King (Clooney) and his daughters is of a piece with the humane, funny, ultimately touching portraits of similarly flummoxed characters in Sideways, About Schmidt, and the rest of the Payne filmography. Like Preston Sturges, Payne is as infatuated with individual Americans as he is with the idea of being an American – here expanded to take in Matt’s native Hawaiian family background. Clooney turns in one of his finest performances, maybe his best to date, with terrific support by Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller as the daughters. The wistful, lovely traditional Hawaiian music is also perfect. Screenplay by Payne, Nat Faxon, and Jim Rash, adapted from a novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings. Fine support acting by Nick Krause, Beau Bridges, Matthew Lillard, and Robert Foster. Refreshing and invigorating as an island breeze. (115 min.)

Film Credits

Official Site:

Director: Alexander Payne

Producer: Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor

Cast: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause, Patricia Hastie, Beau Bridges, Matthew Lillard, Judy Greer and Robert Forster


The Descendants

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