Dir. Alexander Payne
Aus Rating: M15+
Running Time: 115mins
So, basically, I didn't like it. I'm truly flabbergasted that it has trailed such a blaze throughout the US awards season. Or, actually, maybe I'm not all that flabbergasted because The Descendants fits very comfortably into that safe territory of American "indies" that people seem to wet themselves over. It's easily comparable to titles like Little Miss Sunshine and Juno in the way it juggles drama and comedy and can make people feel all warm and cuddly by knowing they're supporting "arthouse cinema", but unlike those films it's actually really, really bad. I didn't have enough words to really discuss some of the other troubling aspects of the film - the weak as piss character development that sees Shailene Woodley's daughter character have a cry in the pool and instantly become daddy's BFF, or the weird way Clooney's character takes his 10-year-old daughter away from her mother who has had her life support turned off and is about to die! - but I think I was able to demonstrate my major qualms with Payne's film.
Nick Davis recently opined - where, I unfortunately cannot remember - if Academy voters cannot find five better, further reaching supporting female performances from 2011 then they simply are not looking hard enough. She's a gorgeous and talented young actress, so it would be a shame to see her nominated for a role that is so uninterested with itself. The screenplay does nothing for Woodley, who plays the rebellious daughter who got sent away to a reform school. In the grand scheme of things she seems rather docile as teenagers go. Some curse words don't make angst. Ah well. I guess all I can hope for is an Up in the Air style across-the-board loss ratio by the time Oscar statues are handed out in late February. Oscar loves his women, so why embrace a film that hates them?