Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On The Descendants

Did you notice that Clooney says very early on that he specializes in real estate transactions but when later asked by his daughter what papers he's pouring over, he says he's reviewing a deposition? I don't think so: that's for litigators not real estate transaction lawyers. (The rule against perpetuities brought back memories, mind you; I got a A in estates in law school.)

I've been arguing that Clooney suffers from being a Johnny one note as an actor, which is to say, unlike for instance the great Sean Penn, Clooney can never transcend himself in his roles. Here, he breaks out, showing real emotion and tense restraint throughout the movie, culminating in his tearful goodbye to his wife, which worked. This is the best acting I've ever seen him do. I didn't find Clooney wooden either, just nicely understated.

This was a good, quiet movie, albeit predictable, that never dragged but rather had the competent feel of taking its time. Robert Forster was a winner as the cantankerous, flinty and single minded father in law. (You could imagine his daughter as a chip off the old block.) Clooney was understatedly powerful in falsely conceding his wife's fidelity, when that was so pesistently insisted on by her father.

His eldest daughter and her more complicated than expected boy friend--president of the chess club after all, whose own father had just died--came approporiately to Clooney's defence with his wife's father. And Judy Greer playing Speer's wife was really good in yelling at Elizabeth, while purporting to forgive her, for trying to take her husband away from her and break her family. I could her rage.

And Clooney was deglamorized for how pretty he is--dowdy, frumpy clothes, dowdy car for all his wealth, slouching odd walk and run. He breathed no inner charismatic fire all of a piece with, I think, him being a good looking (for sure) frumpy, high minded, middle aged guy immersed in his work and letting himself go.

You could understand his wife--apparently, like me, an extreme sports firebrand and single minded too--being dissatisfied, though Speer the real estate guy seemed somewhat of a let down of a choice by her in my books.

I knew about 2/3s of the way through that he wasn't going to sell the land. But I didn't mind that one bit, so much of a lesser part of the movie did it feel like to me.

All in all, it had a good beat and you could dance to it, and I'd give it 3 out of 5 and recommend it.

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