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Perfect Scrutiny of Imperfections

  • Ankur Pathak

    Ankur Pathak (50 DM Points)

    Desimartini | Updated - March 17, 2013 5:11 PM IST
    3.5DM (171 ratings)

    Verdict - Well-acted and well-written; Nothing should stop you from watching this.

    The DescendantsWatch trailerRelease date : January 26, 2012

    Academy Award winning screenwriter Alexander Paynes latest dramedy (which is contending for the Best Picture at the 84th Academy Awards) is best described as the study of human flaws and the consequences that it leads to, which catch the central character of the movie Matt King, shockingly off-guard.
    Documenting the tragic phase in the life of a wealthy lawyer who is also the inheritor of an enviably sprawling property in the laidback Hawaiian islands, the Descendants succeeds on multiple levels because of its unabashed comedic treatment.
    Because the story as you see it might appear very attractive and moving when absorbed simply as literature; but to translate it as stunningly as Payne does on screen is commendable and deserves the highest of honors.
    Matt King (George Clooney) is a successful professional but his marital life has been unwittingly compromised in this tour. He has been emotionally withdrawn from his wife, who now remains comatose at the local hospital, which makes him realize that he shares an equal amount of disconnect with his two daughters aged 10 and 18. If he has been faithful is strictly on viewer perception and it hints on a strong, affirmative side but just being withdrawn from his wife and children has left him paralyzed as to how to deal with his their adolescence. He craves for being authoritative, hasnt known at all how to earn it. So rebellious Alexandra the older of the daughters quite bluntly puts at him that his wife was cheating on him. His being so clueless about it annoys her even more, while at the same time she wants his father to stand corrected. In the middle of the family crisis, the extended clan doesnt remain aloof either, as they wait for his impending decision on the enormous heritage that lays at the prime of Hawaii.
    More than the technicalities involved in the mumbo-jumbo of law, Payne concentrates on the emotional turbulence faced by the ageing King, his relationship with his daughters, especially Alexandra which remarkably evolves from being awkward to cordial ending up as accurately natural and heartfelt. What drives King to so curiously to look for his wifes lover is probably the greatest testament to his honesty towards her; for it symbolizes that he is guilty for being work-obsessed but clearly not of infidelity. When he realizes she really was in love with this person and was contemplating divorce, he is shattered and in a moment of impulsiveness plants a kiss on his wife, in what is also one of the films most poignant moments.
    Throughout the proceedings which is layered with complexities and has instances that put forth a mountain of exploding indecisiveness, what stands apart is the subtle treatment aided with humor which cannot even be called dark. There are more than a couple of laugh out loud moments and they come in the most morally challenging sequences where humor would be the last emotion relevant. Yet, such is the powerful acting by the films cast; it comes across as natural a sentiment like any other.
    This is an instance of thoroughly exceptional screen-writing.
    George Clooney is the undeniable star of the film, who conveys the most exaggerated emotions in a humble, subtle fashion. His eyes carry the baggage of his own calculations gone wrong, while at the same time reflecting his anxiety in correcting things. Heres one of the most powerful man at his vulnerable best. He is angry and frustrated, but never maniacal always composed. With Clooney, right from his unflattering attire to his measured words, its a performance to be watched and studied. He conveys so much even when he isnt verbalizing every thought thats entered his understandably confounded mind.
    Had it not been for great Jean Dujardin in The Artist, Clooneys Oscar prospects couldve been blindingly brighter.
    Shaillene Woodley as Alexandra is a fine actress emoting so brilliantly her occasional helplessness, and frequent concern, an Oscar snub is something that hurts. Beau Bridges is equally plausible in a tiny yet significant part. Overall, The Descendants is beautifully performed.
    So we have a near perfect film, set amidst a stunning landscape of skyscrapers overlooking crystal-blue waters. As calm as the sprawling ocean appears, equally tumultuous are the lives of people inhabiting the shores.
    As the film clearly discards the stereotypical thought that inevitably occurs in all of our minds of people leading cheerfully as if on permanent vacation in as laidback a place as Hawaii Payne succeeds in bringing out a very satisfying irony - the permanence of human blemishes irrespective of the geography.

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