Written and directed by Alexander Payne, The Descendants (2011) is really one man’s struggle to come in terms with a bumpy stretch of his life and bonding with his children.
Plot is set against the exotic locales of the contemporary Hawaii. Matt King (George Clooney) is a land deal consultant and an average unsuspecting husband of an adventurous wife and father to two rebellious daughters. While contemporary movies take about 30-40 mins to set the premise, the Descendants chooses to tell us (quite unconvincingly) over a 5mins monologue that Matt is trustee to a large piece of prime land and spent most of his life on work and never really cared much about the family. Matt’s wife, Elizabeth gets into a coma after a boating accident forcing him to take charge of what is left of the family. Knowing that his wife doesn’t have much time left, he gets on a mission to inform her near and dear ones to pay their last visit.

Matt learns from his elder daughter Alex (Shailene Woodley) that Elizabeth was cheating on him and that there was another man n her life. After the initial perturbation, he asks himself is this other man should also be informed of Elizabeth’s condition considering that he meant so much for her. 

The crux of the movie is about Matt’s emotional ordeal through loss, pain, grief, doubt, shock, rage, forgiveness and in the end finding peace.

The movie works on multiple counts; first of which is a perfect balance between drama and humor. George Clooney convincingly personifies the confused husband in all his emotions and floral design shirts. All characters have a certain depth that makes it easier to relate to their feelings. What is absent though is a good peek into Matt’s life before the ordeal that could’ve highlighted the magnitude of his journey.

In the end, the movie does go a little further from ‘the average’, but not too far. A good watch if you have the time. Else, you aren’t missing too much in life.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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