Just about a month ago, for the inaugural meeting of the movie club (think book club, but for movies) she created, I saw the movie “The Descendants” with my friend Lori. In choosing the movie, which was supposed to be drawn from a hat, Lori wrote on the club’s Facebook page, “I’m going to take the liberty of invoking the Clooney Clause – when there is a Clooney movie that has gotten great reviews, we should see it, and random drawings be damned.”
I have no qualms about such a clause – in fact, I’m 100% in favor of it – but this movie turned out to be as un-Clooney as could possibly be. I knew nothing about it before I saw it, but it never occurred to me that it would be a… whatever causes more crying than a tear-jerker. Waterfall-inducer, perhaps? I can honestly say I cried more during “The Descendants” than any other movie I have ever seen – hell, more than all movies I’ve ever seen added together. I think I made Lori uncomfortable, I cried so much.
The ultra-short synopsis of the story is that Clooney plays a husband/father dealing with myriad family issues with his daughters in the aftermath of his wife’s/their mother’s catastrophic boating accident. And though the circumstances bear absolutely no resemblance to those surrounding my father’s death, it somehow managed to pick open every wound I didn’t even know I still had about Dad dying. Based on the amount of crying I did, apparently there are a lot of them. Huh.
Why am I mentioning this now, a month after I saw the movie? Well, last night “The Descendants” won a Golden Globe for Best Drama, and George Clooney won the Best Actor prize for his performance, and as result, some of you out there in the Internet might think you want to see it. And you probably should – it is a really good movie, so long as the words “advance medical directive” have never been uttered in your family in a non-theoretical way. Or if you have ever been blindsided by the death of a parent. In those cases, well, bring extra tissues. Lots of ’em.
By the way, Clooney did totally deserve an award for his performance – he was utterly convincing in his devastation. In addition, his physical commitment to playing against type was amazing. For someone who is usually so dashing, seeing him look – and act – every bit the fifty year old he is was jarring, especially since his look was a direct line from the goofy guy who worked for Mrs. Garrett in the final seasons of “The Facts of Life” – as if his last 20 years of suavity had never taken place. (Made me grateful they did, to be sure.)
Here’s the trailer. It in no way captures how damn sad the movie is.