Film: Payne’s latest film filled with quirky, quiet comedy

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December 2nd, 2011

Omaha, NE – Omaha’s own Oscar winner, Alexander Payne, has released his first film in nearly seven years. Was it worth the wait? The Reader’s Ryan Syrek and Matt Lockwood from the Movieha podcast have this review of The Descendants.

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Alexander Payne's latest film, The Descendants, is now showing in an exclusive engagement at Film Streams.

Ryan: Not for nothing, but it’s pretty hard to blame writer/director Alexander Payne for opting to shoot a film outside of the Omaha Metro.

Matt: If you gave me the choice to make a movie here or in Hawaii, no offense to Dodge Street, but I’d be mid-hula before you finished asking the question.

Ryan: Hawaii isn’t just the setting for The Descendants, the latest quietly comedic, marginally dramatic Payne film. It’s practically a character.

Matt: George Clooney plays Matt King, a lawyer in charge of a trust that owns a vast tract of untouched Hawaiian ground that’s about to possibly be sold. On the verge of the deal, Matt’s wife is rendered comatose by a boating accident.

Ryan: Sounds like classic comedy material so far.

Matt: Just wait. Matt is already uncomfortable parenting his two daughters, one a 17-year-old hell-raiser and the other a 10-year-old hell-raiser-in-training. But when the eldest tells him that his wife was cheating on him, Matt finds himself toting his children around the Hawaiian islands, chasing down the man who cuckolded him.

Ryan: Aside from comas and cuckoldry, the film strikes at what Payne has always done best: pull out surprisingly nuanced, muted performances from each and every cast member. Although not particularly flashy, and thus not the type of role that typically gets Oscar gold, Clooney manages to naturally emote and cleverly pry laughs from moments that on paper, should not be funny.

Matt: What’s amazing is how Payne gives everyone, down to the lunk-head boyfriend of Matt’s teenage daughter, a chance to have a truly exceptional moment.

Ryan: Admittedly, not much happens, and the real-estate subplot often feels awkward. But plot is not the reason Payne has been so successful. It’s all about quirky, quiet moments and clever character beats, and this movie is full of them.

Matt: My only complaint is that we weren’t offered a chance to screen the movie on location.

Ryan: Sadly, “Aloha” means we’re not that famous.

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