Matt King is a middle-aged father and Hawaiian lawyer whose family life is thrown into crisis when his wife hits her head in a speedboat accident causing her to fall into a coma.  The doctors have done all that they can and now it is time to take her off of like support.  Matt now must notify friends and family of her impending demise, including their ten-year-old and seventeen-year-old daughters Scotty and Alex.  Life becomes more perplexing when he discovers that is wife was having an affair and was intending on asking Matt for a divorce.  Heartbreak on top of heartbreak, Matt decides to seek out this other man to inform him her eventual death.  Matt packs up the two kids plus one of his daughter’s friends named Sid and sets out to confront the man who swept his wife off her feet. What was a weekend of revenge becomes a cathartic family bonding time for this dysfunctional family.

Award winning director Alexander Payne (Sideways) directed The Descendants.  Set in Hawaii, this movie is filled with joy and sadness as the audience accompanies Matt King, played by George Clooney, on his journey to try and find inner peace.  Payne uses his ability to show the beauty and reality of the places that he films.  He also captures the emotional complexity felt by the characters in reaction to their grief.  The script is pure gold with its witty and clever dialogue and knowing when to say nothing at all.  It’s an amazing, heart wrenching character study of the common everyday family finding themselves in the middle of an uncommon set of dilemmas.

The acting in The Descendants is also outstanding and worthy of Oscar gold.  As an ensemble, each character moves smoothly with each other by reacting to every word and feeling.  This is George Clooney’s best movie and after already winning the 2012 Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Drama, Oscar gold will come knocking again with nominations for Clooney and Best Picture.  This is a movie you must watch before the 2012 Oscars.  Newcomer Shailene Woodley is fantastic as Clooney’s eldest daughter and she really holds her own in this emotional powerhouse.  All together The Descendants is a roller coaster of emotion from laughter to tears that rips out your heart and then puts it back together again.