Crazy To Miss: THE DESCENDANTS
It’s unfortunate that Jack and Jill will be seen by more people than the best film being released this weekend. Hopefully, the buzz will keep The Descendants in theaters for awhile. Rolling Stone: “Payne’s low-key approach only deepens the film’s intimate power. Want a movie you can really connect with? The Descendants is damn near perfect.”
CRITICS CONSENSUS: CRAZY TO MISS
What happens is that we get vested in the lives of these characters. That’s rare in a lot of movies.
The two most moving scenes require extraordinary performances from supporting players…Forster is as deserving of a supporting actor nomination as anyone I have seen this year.
Another beautifully chiseled piece of filmmaking – sharp, funny, generous, and moving.
Expertly mixing tears and laughs with the sort of alchemy not seen since “Terms of Endearment,” this superbly written, directed, acted, and yes, Oscar-friendly movie perfectly captures the blackly comic insanity that can overtake a family forced to confront an impending death.
Payne’s low-key approach only deepens the film’s intimate power. Want a movie you can really connect with? The Descendants is damn near perfect.
The movie itself is a worthy thing, too, but it’s not as good as Clooney is here, which is to say, it’s not great.
I can’t think of another movie this year that made me laugh or weep harder for the whole lumpy business of being – the compromises and connections that get us through the day and somehow add up to entire lives.
Rarely has a contemporary movie taken in so much life and revealed it with such depth of feeling.
Alexander Payne has won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay (Sideways), but you’d never guess that from this clumsily written drama: characters keep explaining things that their listeners would already know, and the first couple reels are so thick with expository voice-over that you may think you’re listening to a museum tour on a set of headphones.
Clooney has never been better, subtler, more deeply rooted in a performance than he is in The Descendants. And he’s funny, too.
It’s a precarious balance, but Payne blends wit and poignancy so artfully it feels like an exquisitely choreographed dance.
To call The Descendants perfect would be a kind of insult, a betrayal of its commitment to, and celebration of, human imperfection. Its flaws are impossible to distinguish from its pleasures.
After a five-year wait since “Sideways,” Alexander Payne has made his best film yet with The Descendants. Ostensibly a study of loss and coping with a tragic situation, this wonderfully nuanced look at a father and two daughters dealing with the imminent death of his wife and their mother turns the miraculous trick of possibly being even funnier than it is moving.
Clooney and Payne are coconspirators, too. They know that the story they are telling is too emotionally complicated to muck up with a lot of preening and artifice. They head right into the sad and crazymaking humor of the situation. This is a modest marvel of a movie.
The Descendants is gentle, witty, audience-friendly entertainment for grown-ups, with a great performance by one of our biggest screen stars.
It’s one of the year’s most pleasurable American movies.
It left me cold. The pathos is as unearned as the protagonist’s privilege.
A pitch-perfect movie that threads a microscopically tiny needle between high comedy and devastating drama.
I’m a notorious softie, and I found things to like about the film, most particularly Clooney’s performance; but I remained untouched.
The movie suffers from backstory-heavy voiceover narration in its first half, followed by an excess of quirky laugh lines down the stretch, just when it seems to be finding a stronger rhythm. There’s a shameless crowd-pleasing element to The Descendants that keeps its harder truths about family relationships at bay.
Payne’s observational humor and attention to detail yield something emotionally epic. Everything from beachfront jogs to hospital confessions reveals layers of humanity and absurdity.
Payne is too acerbic – maybe too much of an asshole – to settle for easy humanism. But he’s too smart a dramatist to settle for easy derision. Mockery and empathy seesaw, the balance precarious – and thrillingly so. It’s the noblest kind of satire: cruel and yet, in the end, lacking the killing blow.
In short, The Descendants is the latest exhibit in Payne’s careful dissection of the beached male, which runs from Matthew Broderick’s character in “Election” to Jack Nicholson’s in “About Schmidt” and Paul Giamatti’s in “Sideways.”
This is an exquisite portrait of a family navigating the wreckage imparted to them by one of their own.
It makes The Descendants a tragedy infused with comedy and calls for a balancing act from filmmaker and star alike, a tightrope they navigate with nary a wobble.
The Descendants is an ultra-polished picture in which every emotion we’re supposed to feel has been cued up well in advance. There’s nothing surprising or affecting about it. Not even Clooney, who works wonders with the occasional piece of dialogue, can save it.
The Descendants is a soap opera with Hawaiian shirts.
The Descendants constantly hovers on the brink of a dark comedy. But it never takes the big plug. By treading carefully, Payne has created his warmest, most earnest work, if not his best.
The Descendants is that rare bird, moving, enlightening, funny and unapologetically human. It’s one of the year’s best pictures, one to savor and think about.
It’s such a disappointment that The Descendants isn’t a better movie than it is. In this soap opera disguised as a comedy, Payne, who was always a master at balancing sharp satire with an essential humanism, has traded his tart lemon center for a squishy marshmallow one.
Reviewed by: Gail MacDonald
Heartwarming, tragic and, at times, hilariously funny drama.
Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
Nearly every detail sources directly back to Kaui Hart Hemmings’ sensitively crafted novel, and yet, Payne’s triumph is in striking the right tone — and knowing what to leave unsaid.
Reviewed by: Jaime N. Christley
In a development that seemed to begin in earnest with “Sideways,” a large part of The Descendents seems to operate on a non-narrative level.
Source : Metacritic
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Editor in chief at www.crazymoviepeople.com . . . Probably need to work on getting a life.