|Still from The Descendants|
Director/Writer Alexander Payne does it again with The Descendants, taking a bit of a break after wowing us hard with 2004's Sideways. Set in Hawaii, the Dramedy centers around Land Baron Matt (George Clooney) whose Wife is injured severely after a boating accident. After having been estranged from his Daughters Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) and Scotty (Amara Miller) while absorbed in work, he is forced to reunite with them. Along the way, he learns that his Wife had been having an Affair and above this, he must make an important decision about selling a plot of inherited Land which potentially could make him and his Family wealthy.
Clooney really can do no wrong and after our hopes were raised (and sunken) with self-directed The Ides of March, we truly get to see him shine here in a meaty role which has him working every dramatic muscle possible. Matt experiences a diverse mix of emotions here and Clooney soars as we see him fluctuate between sorrow, rage, jealousy and uncertainty. He takes us on a real Journey and through it all there is no doubt that we feel we've grown with him and this ultimately is what makes The Descendants truly rewarding.
Woodley delivers a Breakthrough Performance as the rebellious and level-headed Alexandra and I sense great things to come for this promising young Actress. Although seen too little, Judy Greer as Julie is an absolute delight, delivering just the right amount of vulnerability and comedic sensibility to remind us this Film is signature Payne.
Fox Searchlight Canada's The Descendants is now in theatres and it definitely is one of the year's best. Expect Clooney and Payne both to be a real force come Awards season.