Three things to like about The Descendants:
1. George Clooney – In contrast with many other roles which in which George embodies style, smooth-talking and has a bunch of cool friends, George admirably pulls off the ordinary and vulnerable father. Easily likeable and by no means a perfect character (none are), but for mine his best performance and well deserving of his Oscar nomination. The supporting cast was great too.
2. Thematically, there’s heaps going on here – family, identity, parenthood, heritage, suffering, death, marriage. Marriage and family are good things when they work well, but they are hard work, complicated by our imperfections and what life throws at us. The film is honest: life is tough and complex and frustrating, largely due to people, no matter where you live.
3. The writing – the Oscar-winning adapted screenplay is funny, tragic and poetic, and no doubt owes much to the source material. Here are a couple of my favourite quotes:
- My friends on the mainland think just because I live in Hawaii, I live in paradise, like a permanent vacation. We’re all just out here, sipping Mai Tais, shaking our hips, catching waves. Are they insane? Do they think we are immune to life? How can they possibly think our families are less screwed up, our cancers less fatal, our heartache less painful?
- A family feels exactly like an archipelago, separate but part of a whole, and always drifting slowly apart.