THE DESCENDANTS (2011)

TMG Scale – 9.0    P Factor  Pending     MPAA Rating: R
Starring George Clooney, Shailene Woodely, Beau Bridges

The Descendants THE DESCENDANTS (2011)

Most theatres delayed releasing this film  to take advantage of the Thanksgiving traffic beginning November 23rd. So ,we saw with “the folks” on Thanksgiving night. It even made me more thankful…for life in general and for good film making. Clooney has really hit his stride.

Hawaii lawyer and land tycoon,  Matt King (Clooney),  tries to re-connect with his two daughters after his wife suffers a boating accident and lies in a coma.  It sounds simple enough…but life of a Dad with two young girls can get very complicated.

(Hmmmm….wife “killed” in a boating accident?  Any coincidence the Natalie Wood investigation reopened this week after 30 years? You know the old joke “What is the only kind of wood that doesn’t float?”)

The film begins with Matt King narrating that his friends on the mainland think he lives in paradise. He points out that no matter where you live, cancer strikes, people get hurt, and bad things happen. His wife lays in a hospital ICU, in a coma from a boating accident 23 days earlier. His ten year old daughter, Scottie is more than a handful. His seventeen year old daughter, Alex is in some sort of drug rehab boarding school. He has been somewhat of an absentee father and left the parenting largely to his wife—a wife he hadn’t spoken to for perhaps three days before he accident.  He had perhaps ignored his marriage and had been too busy with his law practice. Like so many people, he had been running and lost track of the things truly important in his life. It’s the classical tyranny of the urgent. We run, run, run …until something happens that shatters our life apart. And it makes no difference if you live on a beach or an apartment in Chicago.

My brother David wrote an amazing article on the subject after our own brother, Eddie collapsed suddenly and lay in a coma for two days before he died at the age of 22 . I suggest you take time to read it.  

The more I read about George Clooney, and hear him speak in his own words, the more I truly like this guy.  Perhaps, it was more the narration style of the film, but I actually thought I was hearing George Clooney in this film. His character as Matt King seemed to dissolve away. I’d love to interview him about this role. George, if your people could talk to my people and …?

Back to the movie. George, er Matt , is also the trustee of the family land trust which owns 25,000 pristine, undeveloped  acres on the garden island of Kauai, Hawaii. ( TMG has been there. It is paradise) Most of the heirs want to cash in. Native islanders do not want the development the sale will bring. Matt has decent money as a hard working lawyer, but the sale will certainly set them all free economically. The heirs certainly are salivating and hope this money will be their ticket to Nirvana. They all inherited the land. None of them worked for it. So how does he make this decision that affects an entire state, dozens of his cousins and relatives, deal with rebellious teenage daughters, and his wife in a coma? He seems like a good man, and a sincere Dad, but a guy who was too busy and perhaps not paying enough attention to his children, his wife and maybe even himself. Then he learns his wife had been having an affair.

What do you do? Well for starters, you don’t panic. You deal with each issue. Like a good lawyer does, you sort through each problem and determine the right course of action. You sort out the urgent from the truly important.  This film has so much more weaved into it. The acting is terrific. The questions raised are epic. The messages are many. Everyone will take something from this two hour experience and be better for it. What more can you really ask for from a film?  I guess a little more action and a little more uplift…but such is hard to do when you are dealing with such issues. And long may we all run.

You have TMG’s rating and thoughts, tell  us what you think.

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