Whenever George Clooney is not playing a slick cool guy - or a handsome but bumbling dimwit in one of the Coen Brothers' films - he generally settles into what one could call "troubled man mode" (see: Solaris, Michael Clayton, Syriana). The Descendants looks to joins the ranks of those movies that feature the onetime ER heartthrob as a fellow who's lost his way in life.
A trailer has been released for The Descendants, which looks and sounds pretty good so far. Here's the big question, though: Will it snag Clooney the coveted Best Actor Oscar that he's been denied up to now?
The Descendants stars Clooney as Matt King, a land baron who attempts to reconnect with his estranged daughters after his wife suffers a boating accident that leaves her out of commission. Between his lack of experience as a full-time parent, having to deal with his rebellious teenage daughter's dorky boyfriend, and discovering that his wife was cheating on him, Mr. King has a whole lot on his plate to deal with.
Oscar-winner Alexander Payne (Sideways, About Schmidt) directed and co-wrote The Descendants with comedy show actors Nat Fixon (Reno 911!, The Cleveland Show) and Jim Rash (Community), working from a novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings. However, if you're familiar with Payne's previous films, then you'll note that Descendants looks very much like one of the director's own original creations.
Check out the trailer for The Descendants (via Apple) below:
One thing that Payne excels at as a filmmaker is mixing genuinely depressing drama with dark comedy so that his movies never veer too far off into either melodramatic or inappropriately comical territory. The Descendants looks to achieve a similar balancing act, which is good news for anyone hoping to see an awards contender this year that isn't at risk of coming off as overly pretentious or self-important (upcoming arthouse titles like Melancholia and Tree of Life are admittedly in danger of crossing that line).
Clooney lacks the sort of everyman appearance that Paine's previous leading men - like Paul Giamatti (Sideways) and an older Jack Nicholson (About Schmidt) - had, but that could be fitting for the part of Matt King. The character seems like an accomplished professional, similar to Clooney's Up in the Air alter ego, Ryan Bingham. However, unlike Bingham, King is really forced off his high horse to become much more of a caring family man. So maybe this is the role that'll bring Clooney a gold statue to set on the mantelpiece alongside the one he got in the Supporting Actor category for Syriana. We shall see.
The Descendants is scheduled to reach theaters on December 16th, 2011.
Source: Itunes Movie Trailers