I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Descendents (2011)

Matt King (George Clooney) has a wife who's in a coma due to a boating accident.  Their marriage wasn't doing so well before that happened.  King hopes she recovers so they can work on making things better.  The man struggles to deal with the couple's two daughters -- belligerant teenager Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) and bratty ten-year-old Scottie (Amara Miller)  -- and their reactions to their mom's condition.  Unfortunately, King is hit with two bombshells.  He learns that his wife is dying, and he learns from his oldest daughter that his wife was having an affair.

King is also in the middle of a deal to sell some beautiful Hawaiian property that his family has owned for a couple of centuries. King, an attorney, is trustee over the property.  His cousins, including Hugh (Beau Bridges), are especially eager for King to sign off on the deal because all of them stand to make big money. 

I noticed the lovely Hawaiian scenery was in stark contrast to the family problems that King faced.  As his character states in the opening voiceover, just because people live in paradise doesn't mean they don't have troubles.  The film has been described as a coming age of story about a 50 year old man (and Clooney is the same age as the character), and that's correct.  King's character had been going through the motions before the tragedy happens that moves the story forward.  He's forced to stop ignoring the red flags that have been tearing his immediate family apart and take steps of correction.
Clooney recently won a Golden Globe for Best Actor for this performance; it was well deserved.  You can just about see his character's internal struggles even as he measures his words in reactions to all the situations crashing down around him.

Robert Forester has a small, but important role as King's gruff father-in-law, the type of man who never believed his son-in-law was good enough for his daughter.  I almost didn't recognize Matthew Lillard (who was in the movie Scream), as a real estate agent with a connection to the King family's plans to sell their land. 

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