If you have ever had the privilege of watching a world class musician play while at the top of their craft you know it can be a moving and at times emotional experience. When a great blues guitarist plays, there’s a reason they say they are making the guitar cry, and that’s because if they do their job well enough they have the ability to move the listener to tears. Their are rare occasions when actors can do the same thing evoking the same emotions out of the viewer.
George Clooney’s latest film, The Descendants without question shows how an actor has the ability to pull emotion from them self and from the audience viewer. Clooney’s work in this film is one of the best performances in years that features dialogue delivery and facial expressions combined for one of the most heartfelt and gut wrenching performances. Clooney has clearly set a new high for himself and a new standard in the drama/comedy world.
Clooney plays Matt King a successful real estate attorney who’s world is turned upside down when his wife has an accident and is in a fatal coma. King soon discovers that his wife had been cheating on him and had planned to divorce him. He is left to rediscover his two daughters and learn along the way how to begin to be a real father to them while trying to do right by them and his native homeland of Hawaii as a trust to the single largest private land owner in the state.
The performance Clooney turns in is completely flawless as he runs the gamut of all feelings. He proves to be not only one of the most respected persons in Hollywood but now, quite possibly it’s premiere working actor.
Specifically the scene when Matt learns about his wife’s infidelity from his oldest daughter, you can see every thought in Matt’s head play out on his face with complete disbelief. He then quickly runs in an awkward and nervous way, to his sister in-laws and then confronts her wanting to know the details of the affair he begins to let himself feel and let out, ever so slightly the pain his is just beginning to feel and discover.
Alexander Payne has a unique way of blending the serious and emotional with the comedic side that unavoidably comes with those times and situations. While one moment you are laughing at Clooney’s terrible stalking abilities you are then angry and on the verge of tears as he confront’s her wife’s unsuspecting lover.
Not lost amidst Clooney’s fine performance is the acting of the rest of the superb cast from the two daughters to Matt’s father in-law played but the always underrated Robert Forrester and even the oldest daughter’s confidant and friend Sid who ultimately becomes a key role in Clooney’s acceptance.
Payne perfectly weaves the different levels of the completely new life Matt has discovered. He let’s you in the mind as he continues to peel the layers away and starts his new life. He shows how King learns fatherhood along the way much later in life than he ever expected to or hoped to.
The Descendants wasn’t the most unique film of the year, unlike The Artist, but it was undoubtedly the most true to life and most perfectly made movie of the year. It will no doubt gain in appreciation and following as time goes on. It is the one can’t and shouldn’t miss film of the year.