The Descendants Reviews
To call "The Descendants" perfect would be a kind of insult, a betrayal of its commitment to, and celebration of, human imperfection. Its flaws are impossible to distinguish from its pleasures.
A tough, tender, observant, exquisitely nuanced portrait of mixed emotions at their most confounding and profound -- all at play within a deliciously damp, un-touristy Hawaii that's at once lush and lovely to look at.
I can't think of another movie this year that made me laugh or weep harder for the whole lumpy business of being - the compromises and connections that get us through the day and somehow add up to entire lives.
Payne's observational humor and attention to detail yield something emotionally epic. Everything from beachfront jogs to hospital confessions reveals layers of humanity and absurdity.
After his last feature, Mr. Payne was compared by some to Billy Wilder for his wit, and by others to Jean Renoir for his humanity. After this one I'd compare him to the man who made "Sideways." It's the highest praise I know.
Alexander Payne has been gone so long, it's easy to forget just how good he is. With The Descendants, the director's first feature since 2004's Sideways, he reminds us what we've been missing.
[Clooney] is a movie star who can't shake (and doesn't want to, one suspects) the baggage of that good fortune, yet consistently works to blend into the ensemble for the sake of story. The Descendants gives us his most emotional work to date.
The latest exhibit in Payne's careful dissection of the beached male, which runs from Matthew Broderick's character in "Election" to Jack Nicholson's in "About Schmidt" and Paul Giamatti's in "Sideways."
It's lovely - funny and sad and funny/sad in ways you can't always pinpoint, capturing both the perpetual Pacific island breezes and the unsettled interior lives of Hemmings' characters, chief among them the attorney played by George Clooney.
With so many balls in the air the temptation is to rush from one plot strand to another, but Payne takes the opposite approach. He also captures the complexity of emotional reactions that grief stirs.
It's worth seeing for the sharp but uneven human observations in the script and direction by Alexander Payne (Sideways), and sometimes it's fun (but mostly exasperating) watching George Clooney trying to act as he struggles through...