Search

Review: The Descendants

09:00 27 January 2012

The Descendants

The Descendants

Archant

I’m guessing The Da Vinci Code doesn’t figure high on Alexander (About Schmidt, Sideways) Payne’s reading list. Since Election he has made his way with adaptations of well-regarded but little known American novels where nothing much happens.

Novels big on characterisation rather than action – novels basically that have no place being turned into films.

He has the happy knack of making real films in the guise of Oscar pleasers.

His latest is taken from the novel by Hawaiian Kaui Hart Hemmings. I don’t know if it has any claim towards being The Great Hawaiian novel, but as it doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, probably not.

The Descendants is a rather conventional tale of a family reconnecting after a tragedy, the kind of thing that might make for a standard trite star vehicle.

After a boating accident leaves his wife in a coma, lawyer Matt King (George Clooney) has to reconnect with his two daughters, and deal with revelations about his relationships.

He is also the sole trustee of valuable real estate, left to his family by his ancestors more than 100 years before, but which they are now legally obliged to sell – a sale which his many, less affluent, relatives are eagerly awaiting.

Payne comes across as a no thrills director. He’s not above using first person narration to ease us into the story and characters, and doesn’t use any showy gestures to further engage, placing his trust in the performers.

He adds substance to slight tales without weighing them down. He’s good with actors, and good with stars too – he can get them to open up and reveal vulnerabilities without sacrificing the qualities audiences enjoy.

That said, I suspect that the character of King is meant to be a slightly more ambiguous than here. Great as he is in the role, casting Clooney does rather wave away any objections anyone might have about King’s behaviour.

Whenever someone suggests that maybe he was a little emotionally distant or a bit of a skinflint you instinctively feel indignant on his behalf – you can’t say that, that’s George Clooney.

THE DESCENDANTS (15)

Director: Alexander Payne

Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause, Judy Greer, Beau Bridges and Robert Forster

Length: 115 mins

****

0 comments

Other Diss events

What's on in Norfolk - From left to right: The Great Norwich Duck Race, Festival Too in King's Lynn and Dirty Dancing screening at the Outdoor Cinema at Holkham Hall. (Photo: Lionsgate home Entertainment).

Looking for something to do this weekend? Here’s a quick guide to some of the events taking place across the county.

Friday, June 17, 2016
18-19 June Weekend Guide: Diss Cyclathon, Caister Lifeboat Beer and Cider Festival and Aylsham Garden Show (L-R)

Looking for something to do this weekend? Here’s a look at some of the events taking place across the county on Saturday and Sunday - including a little Fathers Day inspiration.

Thursday, June 16, 2016
Has your dad a head for heights? Go Ape in Thetford Forest is one potential Father's Day destination. Picture; Matthew Usher.

Father’s Day is this Sunday, but fret not, whatever type of dad yours is — nature lover to history buff, petrolhead to culture vulture — there is something happening to treat him to. SIMON PARKIN picks ways to dazzle your dad with all the family.

Thursday, June 9, 2016
Weekend Guide 11/12 June: Sandringham Country Park where Nelson's Journey is holding a memorial walk and activity day, Diss Carnival 2016 and Plantation Garden where a Vintage Fair will be taking place.

Looking for something to do this weekend? Here’s a quick guide to some of the events taking place across Norfolk on Saturday and Sunday.

Most Read

Local Weather

Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain

max temp: 19°C

min temp: 15°C

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Diss Mercury e-edition today E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up