The Descendants (2011) Alexander Payne
So here’s another film that’s not so off the beaten path, Alexander Payne’s third installment to his awesome movie track record, The Descendants. The film center’s around George Clooney’s character of a jilted and suddenly single father.
One of the great attributes of Payne’s films, consistently, is his ability to write/direct real people. Characters on screen that you know in your life (and if you can’t think of anyone you know like that person, odds are you are that person in your life). Payne’s films consistently display men coming to terms with their life in a way that is so tangible it leaves the audience comforted with a notion of not being alone. And this is coming from a twenty-four year old girl.
Payne’s paired up with unsung and highly talented Phedon Papamichael again. Papamichael is a working d.p. in Hollywood, every cinematography students dream, who has been shooting and average of two to three films a year. And his style just becomes more refined with every shoot. Papamichael is not afraid to expand his shooting portfolio or test out new styles that show real foresight on his side. His portrayal of Clooney’s run to find out more about his philandering wife and the close-ups of a reflective Clooney taking in the terms of his life throughout the film are two elements that stick out the most vividly in my mind. I cannot wait to see this talented duo team up again in next years Nebraska.
The characters in this film range from angsty teen daughter, played by talented young actress Shailene Woodley, to gruff and clueless grandfather, Robert Forster, are the charm of this film. No one fleshes out a movie quite as well as Alexander Payne and his casting team.
Mix the talented Payne’s palatable script, the actors, and the vibrant flora and fauna of Hawaii (a great expose on the idea of living in ‘paradise’) and you’ve an ace film. I’m happy to see that the SAG’s and the Golden Globe’s have acknowledge this film, even though it was inevitable they would as this is the kind of fete that they love, but it’s also one that the everyday man can relate to. Hence the beauty of a Payne film.
My advice is go see this movie if you haven’t already. And if you can see it in a beach resort town during the off season with all the elderly locals, like I did, it’s an added bonus. One of the great things about watching films with an audience is watching people who have a good 30 years life experience on you, is they cheer when the “retarded” youngin’ ‘Sid’ gets punched in the face; real color.