Perennial award season favorite Alexander Payne returns this year with the dark comedy The Descendants starring George Clooney. The film screened earlier at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival and has been generating significant buzz ever since. I’m a fan of Alexander Payne’s films. I thought Election and About Schmidt were pretty fantastic dark comedies. But I really thought he hit his stride and found a poignant voice in his film Sideways. This latest effort is really fascinating. Payne’s trademark humor is present but this time the backdrop is the beautiful Hawaii. Pair that with the casting of George Clooney and it would appear that Payne is juxtaposing outer physical and natural beauty with inner turmoil and despair.
From Alexander Payne, the creator of the Oscar-winning SIDEWAYS, set in Hawaii, THE DESCENDANTS is a sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic journey for Matt King (George Clooney) an indifferent husband and father of two girls, who is forced to re-examine his past and embrace his future when his wife suffers a boating accident off of Waikiki. The event leads to a rapporchement with his young daughters while Matt wrestles with a decision to sell the family’s land handed down from Hawaiian royalty and missionaries.