The Descendants

The Descendants

Alexander Payne (2011)

15 Certificate


Our Score
Director Alexander Payne has past form (Sideways, About Schmidt) finding moving pathos in older men coping with stasis. Here, it's George Clooney's Hawaii-based lawyer, whose unfaithful wife is in a coma after an boating accident. Playing against his usual dashing persona, Clooney is greying, baggy and uncool in tucked-in shirts and pumps as he tracks down his wife's lover while stoically processing his own grief. He also must try to connect with his daughters and juggle a family land inheritance deal that draws on Hawaii's strong sense of genealogy. Clooney's awkward running style seems to typify the film's sense of absurd tragedy, its sense of melancholy enhanced by the soundtrack of traditional Hawaiian music. Meanwhile, Payne's skilfully rationed moments of humorous relief play out against a surprisingly precipitous but verdant landscape, little seen in US cinema and gorgeously shot by Sideways cinematographer Phedon Papamichael. Warm, subtle and gentle, The Descendants demonstrates what can happen when indie talent is nurtured to mainstream success.


A lawyer negotiating a land deal in Hawaii is forced to take a more active role in his two daughters' upbringing when a boating accident leaves his wife in a coma. He learns she was having an affair, a fact his friends and eldest child were keeping from him. With the two girls in tow, he sets off to find and confront her lover. Drama, with George Clooney, Shailene Woodley and Amara Miller.

Cast & Crew

Matt King George Clooney
Alexandra King Shailene Woodley
Cousin Hugh Beau Bridges
Scott Thorson Robert Forster
Julie Speer Judy Greer
Brian Speer Matthew Lillard
Sid Nick Krause
Scottie King Amara Miller
Kai Mitchell Mary Birdsong
Mark Mitchell Rob Huebel
Cousin Milo Michael Ontkean
Elizabeth King Patricia Hastie
Alice "Tutu" Thorson Barbara L Southern
Director Alexander Payne
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: 20th Century FoxGuidance: Swearing. Available on: DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 27 Jan 2012