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on June 20, 2016
I have a strange allergy to anything having to do with George Clooney but with the Oscar buzz I was curious.

I loved it. I loved the process the Clooney character goes through as he learns a lot more about his wife than he wanted to know. I loved some very prickly and honest monologues he delivers at her bedside. And his relationships with his kids. (Teach your parents well...) It's interesting to see the lights in his internal life come on (in relationship to almost everything going on in his life) at the same time his wife's lights are going out.

He was a victim of cliche that you can never truly know someone. He learns his wife's secret and that starts his journey of discovery and in the end he learns about himself.

The movie has warmth and sees it's characters through a very human lens.

No one gets life, love or relationships right. All you can do is calibrate your compass and keep trying.
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on February 27, 2016
I have seen the film 3 times now and read the book upon which it is based. I find the acting very good, especially by the two young women who play the daughters. It is about two crises which occur in the same time period and cause a dysfunctional family to examine both their beliefs and behaviors. I find some parts a bit confused and things may fall together too easily at times but the framework of the father as narrator works overall. Mostly I love seeing the beauty of Hawaii, especially Kauai, and feel an even stronger stand on people's responsibility to the land and the trust we have to care for it, despite the messes we make of our personal relationships and ensuing problems could be discussed. I felt a bit that the ending was a little weak, as if someone looked at the clock and said that they need to wrap it up to make it movie length. But it is worth watching and discussing for the ideas and beauty of the place.
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on March 17, 2015
Clooney is terrific in this, as a dad and husband who's only just beginning to realize the significance of both roles, and the ways he's never really given adequate attention to either. We find out early that it's too late for one, not quite too late for the other. The writing, by the man who brought us "Sideways" and "About Schmidt" is solid, and in some ways there is at least a *bit* of thematic similarity to both films. (Men in search of themselves.) Too many films have "throw-away" characters that are only there to set the stage for what we know about the main actors/actresses. Not so in this one. So many of the other players here are really intriguing. You end up wondering/caring/empathetic with all of them, from his daughters and their issues, to his father-in-law, his oldest daughter's boyfriend, and even some of Matt's relatives ("the descendants"), including cousin Beau Bridges who's only on screen for maybe 10 minutes, if that. Don't misunderstand, this isn't really what you would call an ensemble cast, it's clearly about George's character, Matt King. It's HIS story. And a good one, well-told at that. Four stars because the pacing felt (to me) just a bit contrived or clunky at times. But a really enjoyable movie. George needs to make more films with meaty dramatic roles.
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on February 3, 2014
This was an interesting story with a clever choice for a setting. A man's wife is mortally wounded in a boating accident. Their marriage had been unraveling prior to the accident. Their teenage daughter is struggling with alcohol and bitterness. The man is on the brink of a major decision about inherited land that will make him the bad guy with either his family or the locals depending on the outcome. And all this misery takes place in paradise: Hawaii.

Clooney narrates and is a great narrator. The characters are believable and authentic. Nothing felt overdone. Shailene Woodley plays the angry teenage daughter and she is outstanding. It also had nice closure for the ending without being sappy.

Truthfully, I can't put my finger on why I wouldn't give this a 5. It is a good movie that was well done. There were many scenes that I would call great. When Clooney's character confronts his wife's lover he asks him if he loved her. The scoundrel pauses before answering (b/c clearly the truth was "no") and you can see the pain on Clooney's face. Even in her betrayal, he didn't want her to be used like that. Or maybe he felt even more worthless that his wife was so desperate for affection that she couldn't see the obvious. Either way, it was a surprising question for him to ask and his reaction to the response was one of many things that fleshed out his character.

Why no 5 star??? I guess overall it just didn't blow me away. I'd still recommend it, though.
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on May 20, 2014
This movie is based on a book by the same name written by a native of Hawaii, Kaui Hart Hemmings. The movie is a thoughtful and upbeat version of the book. It has just enough detail to give it that Hawaiian flavor without weighing it down in too many details - just the right touch. It's directed and produced by Alexander Payne of Sideways fame. I didn't like Sideways, more because I didn't care for the story than the style. This time I could relate to the story, had read the book, and had lived in Hawaii. Besides, I really appreciated his paring down and lifting up the end. His style is existential so he is not trying to make a statement - you make what you will of it. It speaks for itself though! It probably helps to have lived in Hawaii, but it is not necessary to appreciate the movie. (It might be necessary for some to appreciate the book.) Our family has seen it three times now!
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on December 9, 2017
I love this movie. I’ve seen it many times before and still bought it on amazon. It’s a great movie, the relationship between the father and his daughters is very true to reality and isn’t perfect. It’s messy and sad and happy and loving all at the same time. They go through some extremely emotional and heartbreaking experiences through the movie and it’s one that always makes me feel all kinds of feelings after I watch it.
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on March 8, 2017
My wife wonders why I like this movie so much - no I don't wish my wife gets into a boating accident causing a severe brain industry. At it's core this movie is about a father bonding with his children in the face of tragedy.
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on May 11, 2017
I've seen this 3 or 4 times by now, just watched it again online for the first time, and the film still works as well as it does in the theater. Alexander Payne is now my favorite director, and I watch his movies over and over again. The Descendants is is just as great as his other works, and may be Clooney's best performance ever.
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on September 28, 2016
Decent movie, George Clooney played a really good role in this movie. I also really like Shailene Woodley as an actress. The story of the movie was good and captured my interest, however, the movie itself was mediocre. For all the hype, it could have been a little bit better. The movie does invoke a variety of emotions. It is mostly light-hearted but does have a few tear-jerker moments and a few humorous moments.
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on March 31, 2012
I am giving this movie four stars. I do not usually like these kleenex clutchers films but this one did engage me. I say this because if I do not like a film I find myself pausing it to take a break. If the film is really bad I can get lots of housework done! For the most part I enjoyed the story. However, I felt that the script should have given us more information about Elizabeth. My impression of this character is still negative. I never found a reason to sympathize with her. Her friends and family cared about her but I never was sure why. On the other hand I did get to know her husband. I was drawn into their story. The film score is outstanding using great Hawaiian music. Another reason to give this film a four.
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