Steen: The Descendants best work from Clooney for a long while

You won’t be whistling Dixie as you leave the theatre after seeing The Descendants.

The Descendants

You won’t be whistling Dixie as you leave the theatre after this show.

This bittersweet, slice of life looks at a family dealing with layers of issues, one of which is mom, Elizabeth King (Patricia Hastie), who lies comatose after a boating accident.

This awful circumstance has Matt King (George Clooney) spending real time with his two daughters. Clooney is really very good as he wrestles with family, work, two girls that he doesn’t understand, and an awful truth that he must face.

The girls, 10-year-old Scottie King (Amara Miller) and teenager Alexandra King (Shailene Woodley) are wonderful, believable and natural. There is some bad language from these two (one word I haven’t heard in 30 years—no, not that one, the other one!)

Beau Bridges has a small part as Cousin Hugh, part of a large family of descendants of an old Hawaiian family who own a vast tract of land over which there is family dissension—ust another of many issues facing this modern clan.

Many of us may see part of our lives in any of the situations portrayed here. Hopefully we won’t relate with all that is happening, but it is a show that we can connect to on some level, which makes it well worth the time spent.

If that weren’t enough, there are some excellent shots of Hawaii and some Hawaiian music to tap your toes to.

There were a number of great lines, but a couple that resonate were:

“You give your children enough to do something, but not enough to do nothing” and “In Hawaii, some of the most influential people look like bums or stunt men.”

A couple of surprises—Clooney looks pretty funny when he runs; and the main character around whom the film revolves, actually never speaks.

So while this is in no way a fun, lighthearted romp, there were light moments, reflective moments and moments to cheer about.

All in all, we’re left with a sense that we all face life differently—we may not always make the right choices, we may not even be the people we want to be, but whatever life throws at us, with help, we may just be able to survive and in doing that, we may just become better people in the process.

Go see it, it’s the best thing George Clooney has done in a while (do we remember The American?)

I give it four and a half reels.

Susan Steen is a local non-profit executive and a movie buff.



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