The Descendants [2011]

There’s great dialog to be found here, particularly during the more introspective bits; that’s where the writing really shines. But mostly, this Hawaii-set blend of drama and dark comedy is an okay movie with fantastic acting. Steady-paced and fairly light but nonetheless moving, The Descendants is an intimate portrait of the King family amidst a series of crises that range from the deeply personal pain of a family member falling into a coma to the general annoyance caused by a dispute among cousins for a piece of land. George Clooney, arguably the actor to beat in this year’s awards race, keeps outdoing himself by dropping his suave persona and playing the hell out of “Matt King”, a desperate shell of a man. Shailene Woodley is particularly memorable as Matt’s estranged daughter Alexandra. Hell, even Matthew Lillard of Scooby Doo fame turns in a good performance.