While watching The Descendants I felt a sense of hope. Not just because the story was so deeply emotional, with moments of sadness and grief mixed with humour and joy. I found myself hoping that finally people will stop referring to George Clooney’s performances so predictably.
I mentioned after watching Michael Clayton that he was clearly capable of more than the charming roles like Danny Ocean. In The Descendants he has moments of the kind of comedy we saw in O Brother Where Art Thou and yet the challenge facing him here is much more detailed. The role sees a father needing to re-engage with his daughters during a time of crisis and this throws up situations where they all feel uncomfortable.
At the heart of the film is the story of a man reassessing his family relationships while another plot line about a property deal threatens to distract his focus. Clooney delivers another Oscar nominated performance, managing not to be outshone by the glorious Hawaiian scenery, or an impressive supporting cast. As the opening lines of dialogue make clear, just because you live in paradise does not mean your life is perfect.
Working with interesting collaborators, whether it’s Steven Soderbergh, the Coen brothers or, in this instance Alexander Payne, gives Clooney the opportunity to deliver performances that show that he deserves the plaudits. Up in the Air is a tremendous film which, pairing him nicely with the wonderful Vera Farmiga, shows again that he can be serious and not smug, carrying a movie where he appears in virtually every scene.
By the end of The Descendants I felt I’d emotionally engaged with a movie far more than usual. It was fantastic in fact, but it’ll be a while before I can watch it again. I think I’ve got something in my eye.