FILM REVIEW: Clooney presented in a very different light

Undated Film Still Handout from The Descendants. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/E1 Entertainment Films. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.

Undated Film Still Handout from The Descendants. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/E1 Entertainment Films. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.

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Telegraph reporter Ian Soutar checks out Clooney’s latest flick...

Clooney presented in a very different light

THE fact that it has earned Oscar nominations for best picture, best director, best adapted screenplay and best actor may lead punters to expect The Descendants (Cert 15) to be some kind of masterpiece.

The truth is that it is an engaging small-scale movie of family relationships and grief played out in the exotic location of Hawaii with the same dry humour and affectionate treatment of a downbeat character that Alexander Payne achieved in Sideways and About Schmidt.

It shows George Clooney in a different light as a middle-aged dad without a whiff of romance and indeed one of the funniest moments in the film is when he attempts to run down the street in high agitation, only for the flip-flops he is wearing to give him a most ungainly gait.

Clooney is Matt King, a prosperous lawyer too busy negotiating a development deal for his family’s ancestral land to pay much attention to family matters until a boating accident puts his wife in a coma and he has to reconnect with his daughters, 10-year-old Scottie (Amara Miller) and stroppy 17-year-old Alexandra (Shailene Woodley).

The discovery that his wife had been having an affair adds to his desperation but makes it all the more vital the family pull together. It’s a mature Clooney performance as a vulnerable man, Woodley in particular is excellent as the girl who comes to realise where her loyalty lies and we gradually warm to her stoner boyfriend Sid (Nick Krause).

An award-winner at the Sundance Film Festival, Like Crazy (Cert 12A) is a story of the bliss of first love and whether it can withstand long-term stresses.

Anna (Felicity Jones) is a Londoner studying at a Californian university who falls for classmate Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and the couple enjoy an affair that is so joyful and passionate that she overstays her student visa before making a brief trip back to Blighty.

When she returns to the States they won’t let her in and so ensues several years of either being apart and missing each other or being together and nagged by a resentment.

It’s asking the question whether it’s true love or are they in love with a fantasy of it?

The collabaritive process between director Drake Doremus and the two actors gives it a realism that avoids it being too schmaltzy but ultimately enjoyment of the film probably depends on whether you buy into the idea that their love is something special.