"“It’s a film that has got various Oscar nominations written all over it…”"
George Clooney just can’t help himself. With Ides of March, (which he wrote, directed and starred in) one of the hot picks of the 55th London Film Festival – he has excelled himself in Alexander Payne’s The Descendants.
Putting in one of the finest performances of his illustrious career, Clooney plays Matt King, a land baron who attempts to become the father to his two daughters that he had always needed to be, whilst his wife is in a coma following a boating accident.
When informed that his wife won’t be awoken from her coma, Matt has to reconnect with both daughters, Scottie (Amara Miller) and Alexandra (Shailene Woodley), whilst also having to deal with the important decision of whether or not to sell land that he owns, a decision between money and heritage.
Living in Hawaii – showing a somewhat more downcast side to the Islands that isn’t usually portrayed within film, Matt discovers whilst his wife is in a coma that she had been having an affair with local estate agent Brian Speer (Matthew Lillard), and was on the verge of asking for a divorce. Suddenly the feeling of renewed love for his partner and the despair felt about her accident has suddenly been tarnished, as he then begins to question his feelings towards his dying wife.
Clooney is just magnificent in the role, as he touched upon his ability for comic timing whilst also being incredibly poignant and moving as a man suffering a personal crisis, yet managed to remain relatively upbeat in the role, in what is almost a coming-of-age story, despite the fact he is in his fifties.
Although in order for Clooney to play such a role so well he needs a good script to work with and with Payne writing the screenplay, that much is almost a given. The renowned Academy Award winning filmmaker, with Sideways and About Schmidt in his repertoire, he has an incredible knack of combining both comedy and sentiment, and doing so very well.
The script is witty and comedic, whilst touching and emotive, with some beautifully arranged scenes between Matt and his two daughters, although ironically, that isn’t due to the script, as many scenes of the most affecting scenes involve no words at all.
Alongside Clooney are a host of impressive performances, including the two daughters Miller and Woodley, with the latter impressing greatly as the eldest daughter, an uncompromising girl who, knowing full well about her mothers affair, puts her in a similarly challenging role as Clooney where she must also combine despair, resentment and affection in equal measure, yet coming across very well.
Just a quick mention must go to the character of Sid (Nick Krause) who provided the film which the majority of its comedy – as the dense surfer ‘dude’ insists on hanging around the family despite the quite private situation.
It’s a film that has got various Oscar nominations written all over it. It’s just a delightful experience for the viewer, well-written, directed, acted and tells a brilliant story. Not many bad things to say at all really; it’s just one of those films.