the-descendants-oct-4thDirector Payne (Sideways, About Schmidt) transports us to a balmy Hawaii, where we follow the dilemma of the King family, wealthy landowners and descendants of the first King of Hawaii, who stand at the point of selling off a large chunk of prime land for tourist development. At the same time Matt King (George Clooney) is facing a personal crisis – his wife, after a boating accident, lies in a coma in hospital. Payne navigates between high drama, tragedy and humour. “The Descendants is an ode to emotional dissonance wherein regret and antic humour can coexist and even share a drink,” Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post. (Cert 15)
Dir: Alexander Payne 110 mins USA 2011

Programme Notes

USA 2011 110 minutes Cert. 15

A warm welcome to all returning ABCD members, new members and guests, as we commence the 2012 / 2013 season, again an eclectic mix of films from around the world. Tonight we are showing Alexander Payne’s accomplished drama, The Descendants, based on the novel by Hawaiian writer Kaui Hart Hemmings. The backdrop are the atmospheric islands of Oahu and Kauai, whose clear blue skies and low ominous clouds reflect the drama which swings from comedy to tragedy. Hawaiian lawyer and hitherto workaholic, Matt King (George Clooney), is father to 10 year old Scottie, and 17 year old Shailene, and self confessed ‘back-up parent’. Following a boating accident, his wife Elizabeth (Patricia Hastie) is left in a coma and, while the family are brought together at her bedside, many previously untold secrets emerge. Meanwhile the wider King family have property and land prices on their minds. With memorable performances from all of the cast, and a sharply written script, this is an understated and warm account of family life.

Matt King – George Clooney
Alexandra King – Shailene Woodley
Scottie King – Amara Miller
Elizabeth King – Patricia Hastie
Cousin Hugh – Beau Bridges

Director – Alexander Payne
Screenplay – Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rush based on novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings
Cinematography – Phedon Papamichael
Executive Music Producer – Richard Ford
Producers – Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor

“As the film’s soundtrack deftly blends traditional and modern Hawaiian music, Payne provokes timeless questions about race, class, conscience and identity.” Peter Travers, Rolling Stone


“Acting, music, setting – superb!”

“A beautiful, touching film!”

“Moving and credible”

“A tour-de-force: emotions tumbling out but not all sentimental.”

“The reactions of all the parties were believable and absorbing: one was surprised that an American film could avoid sentimentality so well! Quieter than Tora! Tora! Tora! One was also surprised that the daughter’s boyfriend wasn’t dumped but I suppose he had a role still to play.”

“Very enjoyable, lovely scenery. Read the book – film much better.”

“Very realistic portraits”

“A film, plus music, that struck much more of a chord on this, our second viewing!”

“Great scenes of Hawaii – educational, too”

“Interesting film, fab locations – shame about the music!”

“Solid enough to get you drawn into the storyline, featuring unlikeable characters that do develop throughout the film. Not Payne’s best but worth viewing just for the stellar performance from Shailene Woodley.”

“Aloha! Aloha-Hallo. A fine balance between comedy and pathos
Bit uncertain how to rate this: beautiful scenery but a bit of a mishmash.”

“The young cast was great. Enjoyed the film but was it a black, dysfunctional-family, comedy or a broken-family tragedy? It couldn’t make up its mind – a film of two halves.”

“The human condition in the land of plenty”

“Aloha! George Clooney does emotion!”

“More soppy than tough”

“Good film and cast: GC at his best: music very good. Seats clearly made to keep students awake but uncomfortable! Room hot and stuffy. Will bring a cushion next time!”


A:23, B:17, C:6, D:0, E:0 to give 84%