Thursday, May 24, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—The Descendants (2011) ****

R, 115 min.
Director: Alexander Payne
Writers: Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause, Patricia Hastie, Beau Bridges, Robert Forester, Judy Greer, Matthew Lillard

When I reviewed “The Descendants” back in December of last year, I was still reeling from my own father’s death. I enjoyed the movie very much, despite its connections with terrible personal events that were still quite raw on my heart. I’m still finding new emotions to deal with in facing my father’s death, but I’m doing much better now. This gave me a different experience seeing this movie a second time.

I remembered the movie as having more funny moments than I discovered in my second screening. I think that’s reflective of my mindset during the original screening. I was searching for the humor in family and death at that time. I didn’t need it so much this time around. Also, it’s sad moments rested heavier on my soul the first time. This time the whole experience was more like a relief. I could see clearer what was happening. I reacted less viscerally to it and more intellectually.

That’s reflective of any film experience. The first time around holds your visceral reaction, the second your intellectual. A movie passes the test if it works on both levels. “The Descendants” most certainly does. I think much of that success is due to its lyrical quality. It sings a story of life rather than merely depicting one. It has crescendos and diminuendos, and through it all we must trek. We look up to those who do it well. The King family does it well in this film.

Read my original review here.

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