Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Descendants - Film Study

Nominated for two major Oscars (best picture and actor) and likely to win best adapted screenplay, The Descendants is a grown-up, perceptive, funny film about family and responsibility, subjects rarely covered in movies except in cliched, romantic terms.  

 Here is the film description from Wikipedia:

 Matt King (George Clooney) is a Honolulu-based lawyer and the sole trustee of a family trust that controls 25,000 acres of pristine land on the island of Kaua'i. The trust will expire in seven years because of the rule against perpetuities, so the King family has decided to sell the land to Kaua'i native Don Holitzer for development. Just before family members are ready to formally endorse the deal, which Matt favors, a boating accident near Waikīkī renders Matt's wife, Elizabeth, comatose.
Matt and Elizabeth have two daughters, 10-year-old Scottie (Amara Miller) and 17-year-old Alex (Shailene Woodley). Matt is not very close to his daughters and refers to himself as the "back-up parent." With Elizabeth in a coma at Queen's Hospital, he is forced to confront Scottie's inappropriate behavior with other children and Alex's destructive behaviors.

The main themes in The Descendants are:
  •  Family
  • Responsibility
  • Consequences
No character in the film acts "responsibly" or demonstrates a view of the "typical family" until the third act. Much of the film shows characters REACTING to events or changes in their life. It isn't until George Clooney's character, Matt King, decides to keep the family land and inheritance, that the King family grows and Matt King begins to guide his path in life.  The King family finally comes together in the last scene with the three curled up on the living room couch (wearing Elizabeth's hospital blanket) eating ice cream and watching March of the Penguins.


George Clooney wanted to play the role of “Jack” in Sideways, Alexander Payne’s last film. Payne turned him down, saying that he preferred someone less known for the part.

The Descendants was written by Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings.

Rated R, 115 min. SDDS/DTS sound, Color, 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio.

Here is a documentary with the director, Alexander Payne...

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