Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Descendants on DVD

I promise I am not on a mission (yet) to watch all the 2012 Oscar Best Picture nominees, as I was last year. Nonetheless, several of them sparked my interest before they were on that list, The Descendants being one of them. It just looked like one of those tear-jerker, heartfelt dramas I occasionally go for. And it was, painfully so.

George Clooney plays a man in the midst of a family crisis as his cheating wife lies dying in a hospital bed while his two daughters seem determined to live destructive lives. Complicating an already hectic week, as he attempts to tell family and friends of his wife's wish to be taken off life support, he must also decide whether or not to sell some virgin Hawaiian land entrusted to his family.

Did I mention it was painful?

I cried so much watching this movie, and at the end, I couldn't decide whether it was a cathartic experience or just unnecessary torture. There's a LOT of heartache. This isn't a movie about a woman who miraculously recovers from a coma. It's about a family saying good-bye to Mom and dealing with anger over her betrayal with another man. But it's also about that family turning from a splintered wreck into a self-comforting unit, and for that alone, it is beautiful.

Emotion, however, isn't the only thing making or breaking this movie. Clooney and the two actresses who play his 10-year-old and 17-year-old are brilliant. And care was taken to make the minor characters multi-dimensional, too. The setting is Hawaii, but as Clooney's character makes clear in the opening lines, that doesn't mean they get to be on a constant vacation from life.

The movie is rated R, mostly for being sporadically peppered with uses of the F-word. I don't normally go for that type of thing, but if any situation might call for it (and I'm not sure any situation does), it's this one. I can take it in this setting, as an adult viewer. I'll even admit, the language provides some much-needed humor in the story, for example when Clooney's character keeps ineffectually telling his daughters to stop the bad language when the audience knows it's right on the tip of his tongue, too.

The Descendants is not a family movie, despite the family message at the end...unless you have this type of family yourself. But it's more hopeful than it could have been, and for that I can give it a higher rating than I might have otherwise. Three stars.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. That does sound...heavy. It sounds a bit like the Book of Job.


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