Film #28: The Descendants

Today I received a free Redbox rental code on my phone via text. I used this code to rent The Descendants on bluray for the houes’s PS3. When I showed up at the kiosk, I forgot to use the code redbox gave me. The dvd was already coming out of the machine, so I used the code to rent Tin Tin, which I will review tomorrow night.

The Descendants is a film about a journey with family. Matt King (George Clooney) is a Honolulu-based lawyer and the sole trustee of a family trust that controls 25,000 acres of paradise on the island of Kaua’i. The trust will expire in seven years because of the rule against perpetuities, (don’t ask me…Google it or something…) so the King family has decided to sell the land to Kaua’i native Don Holitzer for development. Just before sealing the deal, Matt’s wife gets into a boating accident that knocks her into a coma. The Descendants follows Matt and his daughters on a journey, navigating the tricky and never easy waters of life, love and family.

This film was incredible. Somehow, I thought this film would be boring and slightly slow. Instead, the film was incredibly human and deeply moving. I thought that this was one of the most genuine films I had seen in a while. The Descendants has a fair amount of foul language. I feel that emotions of the characters in this film are in hyperdrive, which causes everyone to be on edge and extremely raw. The writers did an incredible job making this film seem like you were watching real people and not actors. The emotions feel real, not forced, and the conversation feels equally so.

Additionally, this film takes place on the islands of Hawaii, which adds to the majestic feel given by this films gorgeous landscapes. I loved the opening line to this film, and I think that it truly captures the heart of the film and its raw and emotional qualities:

“My friends on the mainland think just because I live in Hawai’i, I live in paradise. Like a permanent vacation we’re all just out here drinking mai tais, shaking our hips, and catching waves. Are they insane? Do they think we’re immune to life? How can they possibly think our families are less screwed up, our heart attacks and cancers less fatal, our grief less devastating? Hell, I haven’t been on a surfboard in fifteen years.”


I love that. I feel that we place Hawaii and other places like it on such a high pedestal. Sure the weather is great and the scenery is beautiful, but pain still exists…people are still suffering. Are they immune to life? This film does an excellent job showing the viewer that even in paradise, no family can escape intense hardships. Check out The Descendants if you get the chance.


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