Sunday, 23 December 2012

Film Review: THE DESCENDANTS (2011)

The Descendants - poster Director: Alexander Payne
Writers: Alexander Payne (screenplay), Nat Faxon (screenplay), Jim Rash (screenplay), Kaui Hart Hemmings (novel)
Running time: 115mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Drama/Comedy
UK Release date: 27th January 2012

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 23rd December 2012.


I have been wanting to see this film for quite some time now; I remember it coming out in theatres and it making quite an impact with the critics. Of course over the time since release I have heard bits and pieces here and there but I still went into it with an open mind. I found it quite exceptional, both in terms of performance and production; a film that’s a tad more dramatic than comic, although there are comedic elements to it. Here’s a very brief summary.

The Descendants - 6 Matt King (George Clooney) has a wife, Elizabeth (Patricia Hastie) who hit her head in a boating accident and is now in hospital in a coma. He has devoted most of his time to his work and so finds it hard to connect with his ten-year-old daughter Scottie (Amara Miller) and his seventeen-year-old daughter Alexandra (Shailene Woodley). Alexandra was at a boarding school but Matt brings her home when her mother ends up in the hospital. She insists on having an old school friend, Sid (Nick Krause), around, much to her father’s dismay; but Sid proves to be quite resourceful. As the drama unfolds we learn more about Elizabeth’s life and there are more than a few surprises in store for Matt. There is also a land deal going on in the background where Matt and his many cousins, who have inherited some prime land, and they are about to vote on who to sell it to. Matt is the trustee and so has the power of veto.

The Descendants - 3 I found this a very touching and quite emotional film which brought echoes of events in my past to the surface (I won’t bore you with the details). Beautifully done with some great Hawaiian music to set the tone; I though that was a very nice touch. All the performances were truly excellent, in particular George Clooney, who really nailed it! This is most certainly a film I will watch again sometime but I do wish the studio wouldn’t promote it as a ‘comedy’; it’s most definitely a drama that has some comic moments.

SteelMonster’s verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

My score: 8.9/10

IMDb Score: 7.5/10 (based on 110,083 votes at the time of going to press).

MetaScore: 84/100: (Based on 43 critic reviews provided by at the time of going to press).

The Descendants - 1 Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 89/100 (based on 228 reviews counted at the time of going to press).

Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 79/100 ‘Liked it’ (based on 60,885 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).

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[first lines]
Matt King: My friends on the mainland think just because I live in Hawaii, I live in paradise. Like a permanent vacation. We're all just out here sipping Mai Tais, shaking our hips, and catching waves. Are they insane?

Matt King: [voice-over] Paradise? Paradise can go fuck itself.

The Descendants - 7 Matt King: I'm worried about my daughters. I think there's something wrong with them.

Matt King: [voice-over] Don't be fooled by appearances. In Hawaii, some of the most powerful people look like bums and stuntmen.

Matt King: I don't want my daughters growing up entitled and spoiled. And I agree with my father - you give your children enough money to do something but not enough to do nothing.

The Descendants - 8 LINKS:
Official Site:

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