(Somebodyisfromhere.com allows himself a 30 min break from studying. Let’s see what he can write.)
Hawaii has been in movies before just not like this. Historically, it has just been an excuse to put the likes of Kristin Bell in a bikini.
And Somebodyisfromhere.com is eternally grateful.
The Descendants promises a different kind of Hawaii. In fact, Clooney’s character explains it to us in the first scene. He says, people from the rest of the country think people who live in Hawaii are on a permanent vacation. He then articulates that this is a falsity and that they have the problems everybody else does. The camera pans out to show Clooney in a hospital room where his wife lies in a coma after a boating accident.
The Descendants is a hard movie to explain (Heck, it’s a hard movie to say which is something Somebodyisfromhere.com learned when his friends kept asking him “What is The Sentence?”). Of course, you wouldn’t expect anything less from director Alexander Payne.
Payne has always had a unique storytelling ability. It’s sort of a dark humor that focuses on a reality that somehow resonates. He pulled this off most popularly in Sideways.
Sideways had some bleakness in it but, in the end, it was always grounded in the fact that it was probably going to end in a wedding. The Descendants, on the other hand, is grounded in a Coma. And infidelity.
What makes The Descendants real is that it recognizes that just because your wife is in a coma doesn’t mean that everything that preceded that event was wonderful.
Take the infidelity. Clooney’s character learns that his wife was sleeping around on him from his daughter played by Shailene Woodley. From there father, 17 year old daughter, her boy friend, and a 10 year old daughter go on a search for the other man.
Of course this is a journey and like all cinematic journeys it is as much about finding the intended goal as it is about finding out about oneself.
The father is a workaholic lawyer. His relationship with his wife was strained and he was, as he described, the backup parent. As the movie progresses you might imagine how that changes.
Clooney and Woodley are together frequently. Somebodyisfromhere.com hadn’t seen anything she was in previously but she was terrific in this movie and he looks forward to seeing more of her.
The Descendants shows viewers there is more to Hawaii than meets the eye. It also shows that there is also more to Clooney. He can be a family man, too. And sure, he still plays a lawyer. But this time he gets to wear a Hawaiian Shirt.
(time’s up. pens down.)