Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
May 18, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Descendants

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
115 minutes
performer
George Clooney, Robert Forster, Shailene Woodley
director
Alexander Payne
distributor
Fox Searchlight Pictures

We gave it a B+

It’s a daunting task to convey the emotional mess that accompanies the death of a loved one, but Kaui Hart Hemmings’ The Descendants captures both the intense sorrow and scattershot moments of levity. Matthew King is a wealthy Hawaiian land-owner keeping vigil over his comatose wife along with his two daughters, one a pathological liar and the other a delinquent. As he begins to face what a faulty father and husband he’s been, King bumbles toward a kind of redemption. The characters aren’t very likable — even the narcissistic, dying wife isn’t granted a free pass — but their all-too-human flaws lend the novel the sharp resonance of truth.

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