As soon as "The Descendants" became available on Netflix I had it at the top of my list. Turns out it wasn't quite what I expected, but I loved it.
I really enjoyed seeing George Clooney play a role so different from the type of character he usually plays. He's Matt King in this one, a Hawaiian lawyer who has neglected his wife and two daughters as he concentrated on his legal career, and he's the head of the Board of Trustees for a huge tract of land on Kauai passed down through his famous Hawaiian family. He has many cousins who have decided it's time to sell that land to developers and make a ton of money off of it.
The story begins just after King's wife, a thrill-seeker and heavy drinker, is in a racing boat accident which leaves her in a coma. Suddenly he is totally responsible for his 17 and 10 year old daughters, both of whom are acting out in their despair and confusion over the situation. He admits he just plain doesn't know what to do with his younger daughter. Many of the other members of the cast besides the daughters are well-played, especially the wife's father.
The plot is about Matt King's suffering in the face of his wife's coma, his lack of faith in himself as a father, and his decision about the land. As head trustee, he has the final say about whether to sell or not. As if he doesn't have enough on his plate, he learns a shocking secret about his wife which leads to another direction in the story.
Clooney is wonderful in this movie. I'm glad I got to see him as more than a handsome womanizer because he nails this role. Even though the movie is very sad, I'm not surprised at the acclaim it has received. Definitely see it if you can.