I try to watch a least half of the Oscar nominated best picture movies before the Oscars are awarded, but I really failed in 2011. This past weekend I finally got around to watching The Descendants, 2 days before the award ceremony. It was nominated for 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Actor for George Clooney, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. It only left Sunday night with one award for the Adapted Screenplay - and I agree with the award.
The movie was quite unique. In my opinion, it was a story about family love and how utterly complicated it can be, especially in the face of tragedy. There was the love between father and daughters, husband and wife, distant family members and in-laws. Mix all of that in with a wife who was unfaithful in her final months when she falls into a coma after a boating accident and you have one stressed out family.
Basic plot: Big shot lawyer is a busy father and husband. One daughter is away at boarding school because of discipline issues at home and the younger daughter is following the same path. Wife loves extreme sports and is in a coma after a boating accident while out with another man. When he husband it told that his wife will never wake up it's time to gather the family to say good bye. This is when he learns from the older daughter that she was having an affair and wanted a divorce. Meanwhile, his large family owns a giant piece of untouched Hawaiian land that will soon be sold and he's in charge of picking who will be the lucky buyer. The two stories get mixed up while the family's life changes dramatically.
The acting was fantastic, but I expect nothing less from Mr Clooney, who is playing father, Matt King. He can play the happy, jokester characters perfectly well because we know that's so much of who he is in real life yet he can move us in very dramatic roles as well. I'm not sure he's ever made me cry, but the final scene with him and his wife was water works for me.
The two daughters in the move were played by young actresses I've never seen before but I was absolutely impressed by their skill and emotions. They were dealing with some pretty serious stuff and played it very well. Amara Miller who played the youngest daughter, Scottie, was fabulous. It takes a lot for me to be convinced of young actors tears, she did a great job.
The story played out how I would expect to actually happen in real life. There was some stuff that I agreed with and some that I didn't, but that's life. I laughed, I cried and I was at peace.
I was moved to tears quite a few times during the show, and I wasn't the only one in the theater crying.
I definitely recommend the movie to anyone looking for a nice slice of life film. There won't be any singing and dancing, there won't be any car chases or big explosions, but good look at love and family.