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George Clooney stars in 'The Descendants': movie review

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As if Matt doesn’t have enough to deal with, he also has to make a decision about the fate of 25,000 acres of pristine land on Kauai that, as majority stakeholder in the family trust, his relatives are pushing him to sell. (His ancestry, on one side of his family, goes back generations to royal Hawaiian blood.) Even worse, he must confront the revelation, supplied early on by Alex, that Elizabeth was carrying on an affair. 

Alex, who has been boarding at a pricey school on the Big Island, resented her mother for her adultery, and there is a strong element of payback in the way she unloads her bombshell on her father. Despite the maundering state of his marriage, the clueless Matt is poleaxed at the news. 

Ironically, inevitably, it is the search for Elizabeth’s boyfriend, who turns out to be an Oahu real estate agent named Brian Speer (Matthew Lillard), that ends up bonding Matt with his eldest daughter. They track Brian down to the Big Island where he’s taking a mini-vacation with his family and, in coconspiratorial mode, press a confrontation. But Matt isn’t the type to foment a fight. What he really wants from Brian, in a beautifully written and acted scene, is something more than a punch-out. He wants Brian to come to the hospital in Oahu and pay his last respects to Elizabeth. (In the course of the film practically all the major players have their solo scenes – they are more like confessions – with the comatose Elizabeth.) 

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