Five Oscar nominations, Five Golden Globe nominations including Best Actor and Best Picture and over $61 million taken worldwide, The Descendants has arrived in the UK with plenty of expectation.
George Clooney plays Max King, an Hawiian lawyer whose life is spiraling towards turmoil.
His wife is in a permanent coma because of a motor boat accident and is soon to have her machine switched off.
His two daughters don’t take him seriously as a father figure and to top it all off he discovers his wife was having an affair with real estate agent Brian Spreer, played by an aging Mathew Lillard (Shaggy in the Scooby Doo movies).
The family embark on a journey to discover to the truth about his wife’s wrongdoing in a bid to become closer and deal with an immense loss.
Director Alexander Payne manages to create a strong sense of sympathy towards all the central characters which is largely down to Clooney going against his usual confident masculine ways to portray a man who is ignorant in his children’s needs and totally unfamiliar with the conventions of raising them.
All of the characters have their own personal issues which gives the film an engaging atmosphere and what emerges is a story that explores dealing with an inevitable loss and the ability to forgive.
The Descendants main strength lies in its ability to convey a huge taboo subject in such a dignified manner that has the right balance of anger and heart which avoids the danger of drifting into melodrama.
An unnecessary narration for the first quarter of the film and a useless subplot involving King and a consortium made up of his family deciding what to do with a piece land that is in his ownership are the only set backs on an otherwise flawless piece of work.
An outstanding supporting cast including Amara Miller as Scotty, the youngest daughter who has to experience the naivety of dealing with a loved one dying is just one of the reasons why The Descendants possesses so much heart and will strike a chord with a mainstream audience as well as keeping its independent roots.