Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Descendants (2011)

Seen on January 18th, 2012

A land baron tries to re-connect with his two daughters after his wife suffers a boating accident. [imdb]

Nominated for 5 Oscars:

Best Picture
Best Director: Alexander Payne
Best Actor: George Clooney
Best Adapted Screenplay (WINNER)
Best Editing

It's good to know I've never been much of an Alexander Payne fan and I didn't become one after watching this film. Strangely enough, I guess this IS my type of film and I was definitely charmed by some elements from it. But overall, just like most of the 2011 film, this is also overrated like hell. What's most surprising to me is the amount of awards for Adapted Screenplay, which is an obvious mess at times.

I guess the problem really IS the writing, too many scenes just thrown in there: the guy going back to the hospital and shouting at the wife who's in a coma and clearly not hearing him?! WTF... And that's not the only weird oh-I-am-trying-to-impress writing choice: there's plenty. The verdict with the land is also predictable, while the film does have an incomplete feeling to it.

I generally like Clooney as an actor, I thought all of his previous nominations were GREAT, but this is far from his best. It's not as bad as the haters suggest it, but it's not much of a performance, outside that touching goodbye scene. So, then, what's good about it? The mood, the pace, the fact that it felt relaxed, sometimes enjoyable and easy to watch (like a soap-opera or a bit better). What made this a 6.5 for me (and not a 5, let's say) was Judy Greer's presence, especially in her final scene; she's quite great and, in a limited role, definitely improves the ending of the film, and saving it as much as she can.

My rating for the film: 6.5/10. Another film that doesn't feel like a Best Picture contender.


  1. I felt it was a nice little character study, but completely agree with your soap opera comments, and your thesis that an awful lot of 2011 films have been overrated.

  2. Judy Greer was PERFECT. If her part had only been a bit bigger, and supporting actress a little less competitive, she would have totally deserved a nomination.