Three subjects of particular interest to me came together in The Descendants:
Family History: My Perspective
If family history is viewed as an exploration of those who came before – ancestors, the weight of obligation is less than if one views family history from a descendant’s perspective. That is illustrated brilliantly in the film, as Matt King struggles with the responsibility of stewardship of land he and other descendants inherited. Matt King is a man who can recite his pedigree, passes it to his children and shares it with a gaggle of cousins. The past is present in their lives.
A Cinematic Perspective
This film is rife with cinematic cliches. Hawaii as paradise. Workaholic father and distant husband. Dysfunctional family. Disloyal wife. Matrimonial implosion. Precocious tween. Teenage daughter acting out. Dull-witted teen beau. Eccentric supporting characters.
Every time I became impatient with the cliche, there was a situational twist; or a piece of dialogue that belied the cliche; or an unexpected insight into a character. That’s a really big but. The Descendants is a much, much better film than it appears in promos, reviews or on the DVD cover. There are human truths brilliantly depicted. I’ll let you pick the ones that resonate with you. My moments were the hospital scenes when the characters spoke to the comatose Elizabeth as if she could hear. Been there, done that.
My dream as a marketer of polar product was to see the Arctic and Antarctica become ubiquitous. Like Walmart – even if you never shopped there – you know the name. The Descendants confirmed that that dream of mine is now a reality. I won’t spoil how the film set in Hawaii manages to do that. Just watch it.
As a matter of fact that is the best piece of advice I can give you about this film – just watch it.