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Descendants, The (15)

Comedy, Drama

A land baron tries to re-connect with his two daughters after his wife suffers a boating accident.

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The critical consensus

[A] rich mix of relationship drama, character comedy and weighty meditation.

****(*)Paul Gallagher, The List, 05/01/2012

A wryly compassionate vision of human fallibility that occasionally threatens to slip off-track, but is anchored by one of Clooney’s strongest performances.

****(*)Philip Kemp, Total Film, 16/01/2012

The Descendants is a heartfelt and tragic piece, but it’s also mature and very funny.

****(*)Siobhan Synnot, The Scotsman, 22/01/2012

A marvellous follow-up to 2004’s Sideways — well worth the wait.

****(*)Dan Jolin, Empire Online, 23/01/2012

Moving, thoughtful and frequently hilarious, it’s good to have Payne back.

****(*)Chris Fyvie, The Skinny, 23/01/2012

The result is a film that...manages to deliver excruciating laughs and moments of genuine heartbreak, but in a way that’s much more surprising and memorable. But it’s really Clooney’s film, and his tender, funny, low-key performance ensures the emotional pay-off is well earned.

****(*)Alistair Harkness, The Scotsman, 26/01/2012

Payne's funny, wise and moving generational tale works.

****(*)Alison Rowat, The Herald, 26/01/2012

Based on a novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings it’s a deceptively low-key picture, not as laugh-out-loud funny or as overtly moving as you might expect, but with an underlying honesty and authenticity that make the characters linger long in the memory. It would be a worthy winner at the Oscars.

****(*)Henry Fitzherbert, Daily Express, 26/01/2012

Payne has found his softcore style, and it's fluent and persuasive, but I preferred the earlier voice: comic, lacerating and unflinching.

***(*)(*)Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, 26/01/2012

A confident return to the feature filmmaking fold from Payne, and another champagne turn from a Hollywood icon refusing to age anything but gracefully.

****(*)Adam Woodward, Little White Lies, 26/01/2012

Wry, wise, loveable and handsomely photographed.

***(*)(*)Nigel Andrews, Financial Times, 27/01/2012

It is intelligent, and humane, and pretty likeable; it isn't special, though, and that's what you hope and expect an Alexander Payne movie to be.

***(*)(*)Anthony Quinn, The Independent, 27/01/2012

This is a film of rare a world full of cinematic junk food, this is haute cuisine.

****(*)Chris Tookey, Daily Mail, 27/01/2012

Even aside from Clooney’s jarring appearance, however, this isn’t Payne’s finest – mainly due to his insistence on pulling away during two moments of emotional intensity around the hospital bedside.

Daily Record, 27/01/2012

As is the way with Payne’s films, we go away feeling that every man is an island – and it’s only a matter of time before each of us finds ourselves deserted.

***(*)(*)Robbie Collins, The Telegraph, 27/01/2012

While it lacks the biting (and somewhat fatalistic) edge we have come to expect from the director who brought us About Schmidt and Sideways, Payne layers the turmoil to make for a genuinely emotional account of heartache and resolution.

****(*)Andrew, TV Bomb, 28/01/2012

This is a mature and serious film about painful adult (and adolescent and childhood) emotions, and the difficulty of the content is offset by a gentle, relaxed comedy-drama smoothness that's deceptive.

****(*)Jonathan Romney, The Independent, 29/01/2012

Unlike the raucously funny Sideways, my favourite of Payne's films, this is a quieter, more restrained story, sometimes sombre, occasionally amusing, always charming and unerringly real.

Sunday Herald, 29/01/2012

Payne knows the difference between lightness and frivolity, between seriousness and solemnity, between different kinds of cloud.

Philip French, The Observer, 29/01/2012

Features about Descendants, The (15)

Alexander Payne on 'The Descendants'

Benjamin Secher, The Telegraph, 16/01/2012

Alexander Payne's The Descendants--not just for the kids, thankfully

John Patterson, The Guardian, 21/01/2012

Who should play Matt King in The Descendants? Without hesitation I said George Clooney

Kaui Hart Hemmings, The Guardian, 27/01/2012

Descendants, The (15)

Where and when?

General release. Check local listings for show times.

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