Must confess that the trailer for The Descendants did nothing for me so I was curious as to why a) George Clooney has been shortlisted for an Oscar and b) the poster was full of superlatives and high praise.
So it's the story of Matt King (Clooney) who lives in Hawaii with his wife and two daughters who tells us from the outset that there is a misconception that it is paradise. Cue bad things happening.
The bad things are his wife is in a coma after a speed boat accident leaving him parenting his daughters - something his not used to doing. The second bad thing (it's all in the trailer so I'm not spoiling it) is that he finds out that his wife is having an affair.
There is also a parallel storyline about the sale of some family land he's involved with hence the title.
So did Clooney give an Oscar worthy performance? Well he gave a very good performance in something that isn't his usual fare and he made me cry a few times but I've seen more interesting performances with more depth elsewhere and from people that haven't been short-listed (coughs: Michael Fassbender).
The land sale plot line feels a little extraneous. It's obviously there to show the journey that Matt goes on as a person - he learns to appreciate the importance of family and his heritage - but otherwise just gets in the way.
Its strength lies in the dynamics of the close family and how the mother's absence exposes its strengths and weaknesses, the resentments and failings. But is it enough?
Again it's one of those films that is nicely done, well constructed with a nice balance of lighter moments and emotional moments but will it stand out from the crowd in a few months time? The answer to that is probably 'no'.
It's getting a Stan rating of 60% from me. On IMDb it has a rating of 77% with a Metacritic score of 84% while on Rotten Tomatoes it has 90% with 82% of audience members giving it 3.5 stars or more. So what do I know. Perhaps I'm just getting a hard person to please?