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The Descendants

Where to Watch The Descendants

R
2011

The Descendants is a compelling drama from 2011, where humor, tragedy, and life’s everyday complexities interweave into a poignant cinematic experience. Directed by the Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alexander Payne, best known for his work on films like 'Sideways' and 'Nebraska', the movie is a shift from his usual Midwest settings and ventures into the beautiful landscapes of Hawaii. Starring George Clooney in one of his most memorable performances, with robust support from a talented cast including Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller, The Descendants explores the intricacies of familial relationships and coming to terms with grief and pain.

The story revolves around Matt King (George Clooney), an indifferent father, and understated lawyer based in Honolulu, whose life takes a drastic turn when his wife, Elizabeth, is involved in a tragic boating accident and slips into a coma. Upon this occurrence, Matt finds himself in unfamiliar territory, trying to reconnect with his two daughters, 10-year-old Scottie (Amara Miller), and 17-year-old Alex (Shailene Woodley). Both the daughters are excellently portrayed with their own complexities, Alex being a rebellious teenager sent away to boarding school for her unruly behavior, and Scottie, trying to navigate through this turmoil in her innocent, childlike ways.

Matt, who refers to himself as the 'back-up’ parent, is suddenly thrust into the rigors of parenthood, dealing with his daughters' emotions alongside his own grief-stricken heart. He's tormented with his feelings for his wife and the guilt of not being an involved husband and father. The transformation of his character from a disengaged parent to someone who's trying to hold his family together forms an interesting and emotional arc in the story.

While coping with the tragic circumstance, Matt is also faced with a substantial family decision. He is a descendant of a Hawaiian royal family and the sole trustee of a vast, valuable virgin tract of Kauai land. The family cousins are pressuring him to sell the land to developers, which would make all of them rich but could potentially rob Hawaii of a piece of its natural beauty. This subplot adds another layer to the narrative and subtly reflects on the Hawaiian culture, the spirit of its people, and the constant clash between the preservation of natural heritage and modern-day exploitation.

The film, through the skilled lens of cinematographer Phedon Papamichael, beautifully captures the striking Hawaiian landscapes, giving the audiences a taste of paradise. However, it also aims to project Hawaiian life beyond the stereotypical tourist's paradise, portraying real-life issues faced by people living there. Delving deep into this, it cleverly balances the idyllic portrayal of Hawaii with the grim reality of Matt's life.

George Clooney delivers a powerful performance as Matt King, combining vulnerability with inner-strength, undoubtedly one of his best career performances. He brings out Matt's character evolution with great integrity, making the audiences root for him. Shailene Woodley shines in her role as the angry and confused teenager, delivering a breakout performance. Her scenes with Clooney are particularly impactful and form the emotional core of the film. Amara Miller accomplishes an adorable portrayal of Scottie, capturing a complex range of emotions despite her young age.

In essence, The Descendants is a moving, resonant, and occasionally funny story of a family dealing with life-altering situations and emotional upheavals. The narrative is insightful and engaging, integrating drama and humor seamlessly. However, what stands out the most is the fine balance the film strikes, never veering into the territories of excessive drama or mindless levity. It's a touching portrayal of human imperfections, hard truths, and the unfathomable depth of familial bonds.

In short, The Descendants is an emotionally rich family drama which portrays life in its raw and complicated form. Its honesty and authenticity separate it from being another classic tragedy, turning it instead into a narration reflecting the trials and tribulations of average people facing extraordinary circumstances. It is a film about loss, love, forgiveness, and the journey towards understanding and redemption.

The Descendants is a Comedy, Drama movie released in 2011. It has a runtime of 115 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.3. It also holds a MetaScore of 84.

How to Watch The Descendants

Where can I stream The Descendants movie online? The Descendants is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Netflix, Peacock Premium, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent The Descendants for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

7.3/10
84/100
Director
Alexander Payne
Stars
George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Judy Greer, Beau Bridges
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