The opening sequences of director ‘s The Descendants include a short (maybe less than one second) image of a powerful and beautiful woman surfing on the waves around Hawaii. For most of the rest of the film the woman will lie in a comma on a hospital bed and she will eventually die. What happens when a dear and close family member is suddenly taken by fate (a surfing accident in this case) from among us? How does the husband, how do the kids cope? Do we ever end discovering who the closer human being to us is? The answer this film gives is no, even after accident and death do us apart, we may not end discovering who we live or lived with.

 

spurce http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1033575/

spurce http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1033575/

 

I am no big fan of this genre of movies. I can cope with death on screen in horror flicks, action movies or westerns because I know that they are fiction. It’s more difficult to deal with such subjects in a realistic contemporary story, and none of the ‘romantic’ comedy or melodrama genres films succeed to my taste unless they are really very good. Actually one of ‘s previous films, the 2002 About Schmidt was one of these due to the extraordinary performances of and . Here we have in the role of the real-estate owner and super-busy professional whose wife accident brings back to the earthly dealings of coping with his two daughters – one just our of the teen years, the other just before her teen years – and a complicated property heritage selling in which family interests conflict with the keeping of the Hawaiian tradition and attachment to the land. Clooney is better in my view in emanating authority than emotions, his sense of humor helps him overcome the limitations of his acting skills, but in this film I had the feeling his playing on the emotional cords did not completely succeed.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3R7OzS54hbo

(video source Fox Star India)

 

Yet, there are a few real good moments. I mentioned the opening scene which kind of opens the path to what follows. The performance of (as the younger daughter) when learning about her mother’s fate is simply amazing. is also acting well as the elder daughter. Moments of real truth surge here and there, when some of the supporting actors (like ) are left to express their emotions in the patterns dictated by the story. Hawaii gets its opportunity as the background of a real American story and I can just hope that more movie makers will come here for other reasons than filming beaches and waves. The good moments mix however with a too high dose of melodrama, expected turns of the story, sit-com like approach to dramatic situations. The Descendants promise much, deliver less, and its initial success seems to fade, like one of these beautiful color photos whose contrast fades in time blurring the persons and the landscape.