George Clooney plays Matt King, he is the descendant(Get it? It’s the title) of Hawaiian royalty, he owns a large piece of land along with a dozen other cousins. His wife on the eve of a land deal being put in place, gets into a boating accident and is in a coma. He tries to connect with his two daughters. Through his oldest daughter played by Shailene Woodley we find out that his wife was having an affair. The family must work through their emotions and try and make important decisions, responding to the accident.
This movie is really heavy, just know that going in. I knew this movie would have a different balance to it. Alexander Payne’s “Sideways” to me is a modern classic. I love that movie. This is his follow up and man does he hit it out of the ballpark. This movie doesn’t pull any punches. It’s emotional and funny all at once. The film never really blinks and never hesitates. The opening of the film makes it clear that even if you live in paradise, doesn’t mean your life is great. Clooney’s character is a great one, he’s very wealthy but yet doesn’t play with it. He keeps it hidden away from his family. We never meet his wife, we just hear about her through other characters, we never see her in a great light which to me is a let down. We only know her as a cheater and possibly the only reason she married Clooney’s character was for money.
A surprise though is Shailene Woodley, who I think was on an ABC Family show. She plays the older daughter who is a lot like her mother. Problem is she hates her as she wants to expose her for cheating on her dad. The girl has problems with cursing and has had drug and alcohol problems. Her performance isn’t ground breaking but very impressive.
We spend a lot of time with the family as they travel to another island in Hawaii. They track down the man the wife was having an affair with and find out he has his own family. The story has many moments where you can find yourself choking up. This film does cement Clooney as just a great actor of this generation. I want to see more from Payne, waiting this long between films is not fair, I love his style and mixing small bits of comedy in with intense emotional scenes. It moves at a slow pace and if you go in expecting a laugh riot, you’ll be confused and let down. The movie is deeper and about living life and understanding what is important in life.