Wednesday, November 16, 2011

11-16-11: Payne Strikes Again

THE DESCENDANTS (2011) ****1/2 115 mins. D: Alexander Payne. George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause.

After being informed his comatose wife does not have much time left, a father begins a journey that is unexpectedly full of heartache, anger, confusion and redemption.

To describe this film any further would do it a grave injustice. I will say this, the performances are phenomenal.

Clooney plays Matt King, a land baron who must not only finalize a huge land deal but is also grieving for his wife and trying to hold his family together. Then, things get a little more complicated. If you've seen the trailer then you probably know what it is. However, there is so much much more to it then that.

Clooney's performance is Oscar worthy and he may very well be the front runner. This is another performance where you see the character and not the actor. He is a flesh and blood father who's doing all he can to keep it together with grace and dignity. The daughters played by Woodley and Miller are exceptional. All of the performances bring life to characters that are very real and genuine.

Payne directs with a very assured hand and paints a picture that's not depressing or sad despite its premise. There are moments that may very well bring a tear or two. It is very touching, funny, realistic, human and one of the best films of the year.

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