Movie Review: The Descendants (2011)
Matt King (Clooney) is a Lawyer who lives in Hawaii with his wife and two Daughters Scottie (Amara Miller) and Alexandra (Shailene Woodley). King’s family has lived on the islands for centuries and is descended from Hawaiian royalty. Matt is the head of a land trust that oversees over 25,000 acres of water front property in Hawaii that was left to his family after the death of his royal descendants. The land has been untouched and virgin since then. Matt and his family must make a decision on what to do with the land because of an upcoming change in law that will force them to lose the property in less than seven years. Unlike Matt, most of his family has squandered their money and are in favor of selling to a large developer that will build resorts, condominiums and retail shopping on the property making them all extremely wealthy. Of course this is a big topic in the community with everyone talking about it and Matt as the trustee has the final say on what is done with the land, putting a great deal of pressure on him.
Matt’s wife Elizabeth (Patricia Hastie) is in a coma after a terrible boating accident leaves her with a severe head injury and Matt is forced to relinquish his “backup parent” duties and step up as the only parent in the lives of his two daughters. Matt finds he has no clue what he’s doing and is not able to handle his youngest daughter Scottie, who has been handling the situation with her mother by acting out at school, with her friends and lashing out at Matt. Unable to deal alone, he checks his seventeen year old daughter Alexandra out of a rehab facility to allow her to deal with her mother’s coma and most importantly, to help him get through it all. Adding to Matt’s problems, Alexandra reveals the truth as to why she has been so defiant and troubled, and it’s not something that Matt needed to hear at this particular time in his life. The news that Elizabeth has been cheating on him is devastating to Matt and leaves him re-evaluating everything that is going on in his life.
With the possibility of Elizabeth not waking up again, Matt embarks on a journey to inform all the relatives and close family friends of what is going on, allowing them an opportunity to say their goodbyes sooner rather than later. Alexandra finds also that she must grow-up quickly, leave all her problems behind, and help keep the family together and helping her father through it all.
Woodley is outstanding in her performance of a seventeen year old with the weight of the world on her discovering that she’s not the only one with problems. She portrays this with authenticity. Clooney’s portrayal of Matt is brilliant and probably some of his best work. You can relate to every situation he is in as he fumbles through them trying to find himself and do what’s best for his kids, his wife and his family. Overall, this is a MUST SEE movie! Just be prepared, without giving it away, the end packs a hard punch. Even though it may be expected, you will feel every feeling that Matt is experiencing!