The Descendants (2011) Film Review



This post originally appeared at in March 2012.

Finally, I am getting to see more of the 2012 Oscar nominated films, and I am left wondering why, why, why? I often don’t agree with the nominated films, but I will see some merit in them. Not so much with this one. No, that’s not totally true. I can see why many people would like this film, and I’m not just talking about George Clooney.

What I found amazing was that a film which deals with grief and death could have such a lack of emotional depth.

I’m a crier. I love crying at movies and I’m not ashamed of it. I would have thought that a film about a man whose wife is in a coma and he finds out that she was cheating would be an absolute tearfest.

I think I welled up twice, but didn’t even need to brush the tears away.

Perhaps the lack of emotion was supposed to be there.

Perhaps that was the point – that Clooney’s character was so separated from his life that everything was emotionless. I guess if that was the point, then it was probably really good. It just didn’t work for me.

There were good things about the film. The acting from the daughters was amazing. I loved seeing the journey of the older daughter who stepped up to take the emotional responsibility, and the playing out of the younger daughter. I look forward to seeing where the career of these actresses takes them. There were some great characters that I really hated – the wife’s father, the daughter’s friend, the mother of the bullied girl – and I hated them with complexity, because they were not just single-dimensional caricatures.

I’ve heard the book is fantastic. I can see how it might be. There’s another one on my list – although for the moment, I’m getting through Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, so it will be a while.

The Descendants won the Oscar for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay. It was also nominated for Best Achievement in Directing (Alexandrer Payne), Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Motion Picture of the Year and Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role.