George Clooney is one of those actors that I constantly go back and forth on whether I like him or not. I don't mean personally but rather on the big screen. Absolutely loved him in "Up In The Air," but loathed him in "Syriana." Now comes his performance in "The Descendants" and he's certainly back in my good favor on this one.
Not only is Clooney really good, but so is every actor and actress in this movie and that's a credit to both them and to director Alexander Payne. Payne also wrote the screenplay for this movie and though he doesn't do many films they are usually really good. He was also responsible for "Sideways" and "About Schmidt."
"The Descendants" is one of those rare movies that runs the gamut of emotions. There are definitely sad and poignant times but there is some comedy mixed in.
The story revolves around a wild mother who was involved in a boating accident that has left her in a permanent coma. Clooney plays a workaholic husband who all of a sudden is left to play father and mother to his two precocious daughters. The daughters are ages 10 and 18, and the older one has an incredible chip on her shoulder. She also is privy to a secret that her mother was having an affair before her accident.
Clooney is made aware of the affair by his daughter, and for the next hour or so of the movie goes about finding a way of meeting this other man.
Some incredibly uncomfortable situations are played seamlessly by Clooney and his fellow actors, and this is one movie that just sucks you into the soap opera like you're a part of it.
The other sub plot has Clooney as the head trustee of a large 250 acre estate that is up for sale. He has to juggle this transaction while dealing with the knowledge of his wife's affair, and the fact that she has a living will that states she will not be kept on life support.
Great acting, great story and (for a change) a very satisfying ending (always important.) This is one of the best movies of 2011, and will be nominated for Best Picture. Clooney likely will get a nomination for Best Actor. This my friends is a grand slam - a four star movie.