Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Nothing Bad Happens In Hawaii... Right?

Best Picture nomination number two. A film that constantly makes me say, ‘What else have they been in?’ A film hailed as essential viewing and nominated for 5 Oscars including Best Actor, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing and, obviously, Best Picture. A film set in the beautifully idealistic islands of Hawaii. A film known as The Descendants. 

The film tells the story of Matt King (George Clooney), whose wife, Elizabeth, has been left in a coma after a motorboat accident, and his two daughters, Scottie (Amara Miller) and Alex (Shailene Woodley), as they come to terms with their mother's condition. Alex is 17, a bit of a rebel and is at boarding school. Scottie is ten and is taking her mother's accident pretty badly. Matt, who hasn't had to look after Scottie alone since she was three, is suddenly thrust into the world of single parenting with two daughters that he has not spent enough time with and no longer understands. There is added complications thrown in as Matt is the head trustee of a large area of land that his family have passed down over generations and it is entirely his decision as to how the family sell it. On top of this, Alex refuses to be civil without her best friend Sid (Nick Krause) at her side, Matt's father-in-law, Scott (Robert Forster), is extremely critical of how he is handling the situation, and Matt's surrounded by the guilt his shambles of a marriage. As Elizabeth edges closer to death, we are drawn into Matt's life to see how he copes.

Family in trouble? Call the A-team
(Plus, look at Shailene Woodley... Need more reson to see the movie?

 George Clooney is nominated yet again for Best Actor and, once again, he deserves it. I've been slightly angered by people's judgements of George Clooney after reading the IMDb forums but I tell you now, he is superb. But this film is about one man coping with pain. With suffering. With losing control. In reality, this doesn't happen with large, heartfelt, speeches in the rain. It happens with shock, confusion, desperation. Clooney shows every deep emotion with every part of his body. The contrast of a smile with his sad eyes. Personally, I found it a very moving performance. Definitely worth an Oscar nomination. Also pulling out some awesome acting chops is Shailene Woodley. Not only is she absolutely stunning, she's also a very good actress. She balances the line between angry teenager and broken hearted daughter perfectly. Her performance is gripping and I'm half surprised she didn't get a Best Supporting Actress nod. Also worth a mention is the very brief apperance from both Shaggy, Sorry, Matthew Lillard, and Judy Greer as Brian and Julie Speer. While their screen time is small, their effect is huge. 

George decided to grow a bushy beard for the role

I thought this was a very well constructed script. Having said that, there were moments that seemed unneeded. There is an overwhelming sense of realism throughout the movie. People don't announce their problems to the world, they keep them close. Because of this, the dramatic irony throughout the movie is absolutely heart breaking. As Elizabeth comes closer to death, Matt is constantly told, 'She's a fighter. She'll be fine in no time,' and he responds with a smile that shows all the pain and suffering that we know is there but the other characters would never recognise. As well as a sturdy script and great acting, the Hawaii based score is a pleasure to listen to and, when combined with the idealistic setting of Hawaii's gorgeous cliffs and beaches, causes a heart-rendering juxtaposition from the events of the film.

A really, really good film. Certainly one of George Clooney's strongest performances despite what amateur reviews on IMDb say. A captivating, passionate, and emotional story. It reaches into the depths of your heart and tugs strings that you didn't know existed. Even with the comedy input, this film is extremely touching. If you've experienced losing someone close to you or had to deal with someone you loved being in hospital for a long time, some moments may ring all to true. It is a sensitive subject and it is treated as exactly that, sensitive. A must see.

Best Bit? This is hard. I love the confrontation between Matt and Brian Speer. Some quality acting from all involved as well as an important message for all. Be the better person.

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