Film Review: The Descendants (2011)

March 14, 2012

I’ve heard many good things about The Descendants and was very excited when I learned the local theater was playing this film, so I took the time to go watch it yesterday. The Descendants, based on a novel written by Kaui Hart Hemmings, is set in Hawaii and stars George Clooney as the father of two daughters – played by Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller.

With a 7.6/10 rating on IMDb, I didn’t think I would go wrong, but I was gravely mistaken. I’m kind of ashamed to say that I found the whole plot very dry and boring. The bad language that is used consistently throughout the film didn’t help my impression of the film either. Although I am usually okay with films that have rough language – all I can think of as an example is Inglorious Basterds (2009) which I really enjoyed and would give a 8/10 rating – The Descendants was a different story altogether… I could barely sit through the film, I was twiddling my thumbs and audience-watching more than movie-watching an hour into the film. I found the pace too slow, the humour weird and a bit crass, and the story dull and uncaptivationg. Again, it’s not that a slow and serene pace ever deters me – I watched the 2008 Japanese film Okuribito (English Title: Departures) the other day, which goes in turtle pace and loved it! I suppose I also found the whole thing in The Descendants about George Clooney finding out his wife was cheating on him while she lay in a coma very irrelevant, unfair, and a bit disrespectful. I definitely didn’t feel the love.

Maybe if I had watched this film while curled up on the sofa at home, snuggled into a blankie and a bowl of ice cream on my lap, that would have made watching this flick more endurable. Being able to press the pause button, taking a few rounds and talking breaks, and eating something more that nachos & cheese in a relaxed state without my shoes and socks on would have changed my reaction to the film. I could definitely have enjoyed the range of soothing Hawaiian music on the background score much better! Although I doubt the harsh language would have helped…

But then, this may just be a simple case of my Catcher in the Rye syndrome. I hated that book with a passion when I first read it in school, because everything the main character Holden Caulfield stood for, I despised. In the same way, George Clooney’s character Matt King, and even the way his troubled children Alexandra and Scottie act make me annoyed as ever. So let’s just say I was disappointed in this film, and leave it at that.

I’d rate this film a 3/10


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