News / Arts & Entertainment

    Man Struggles with Comatose Wife, Feisty Teen in 'The Descendants'

    Multimedia

    Audio
    Alan Silverman

    Movie stars and fans descend on Toronto every September for the Canadian city's annual international film festival. One of this year's most acclaimed films, The Descendants, stars George Clooney.



    "I'm the back-up parent - the understudy - and with Elizabeth, my wife, in the hospital, my daughters are testing me," notes Matt King, a Honolulu attorney in a family with roots in Hawaii dating back to the mid-1800s. The view out his window is what most mainlanders consider an island paradise, but Matt is in personal hell: his wife is in a terminal coma and their teenaged daughter Alex is being …well, a teenager.

    MATT: "I have to go around and tell people what's happening …family and a few close friends."
    ALEX: "I don't want to talk about mom with anyone."
    MATT: "Look, whatever you two fought about, you have to drop it. Grow up."
    ALEX: "You really don't have a clue, do you? Dad, mom was cheating on you."


    CAPTION
    George Clooney as Matt King and Shailene Woodley as Alexandra Photo: Merie Wallace

    Just when he thought things couldn't get worse, Matt learns of his dying wife's infidelity and becomes determined to find "the other man."

    "Who is he? I'd like to know who the guy is that my wife was …seeing," Matt tells his daughter.

    George Clooney came to the 36th annual Toronto International Film Festival with two films. He directed and co-wrote the scathing political drama "The Ides of March." But Clooney says, for The Descendants, he was happy to turn those tasks over to Alexander Payne.

    "It's such a well-written part and such a good director that it made it easy as an actor," Clooney says. "I didn't have to think as a director at all. You just put yourself in his hands.

    "When you see the film, the thing that is Alexander's specialty is his ability to switch on a dime from funny to really sad," he adds. "It's really hard to do well. And it's hard as an actor to judge that. Only he knows where he wants it to be so you really just have to go 'you tell me when I've gone too far or not far enough.'"

    CAPTION
    Director Alexander Payne on set of "The Descendants" Photo: Merie Wallace

    After his first films were set in his native Omaha in the American Midwest, Alexander Payne took audiences to California wine country in the Oscar-winning hit Sideways. Speaking to reporters at the Toronto festival, Payne explained why he felt The Descendants, adapted from a novel by Hawaiian author Kauai Hart Hemmings, had to be filmed on that island state.

    "Shooting in Hawaii is one of the reasons I wanted to make this film …and not just for the obvious reasons - the sun and surf and all of that," explains Payne. "My previous visits to Hawaii had taught me that there's a very interesting and complex social fabric there that I wanted to get to know a little bit more …as much as I could …and try to represent it faithfully on screen."

    CAPTION
    L to R: George Clooney as Matt King, Shailene Woodley as Alexandra and Amara Miller as Scottie star in "The Descendants"

    Payne avoids the usual tourist destinations in Hawaii and focuses instead on things that people who live there would recognize including …and especially, he says …the music.

    "It was my idea early on that, given how much Hawaiian music there is, it would be inelegant of me not to have a soundtrack comprised entirely of Hawaiian music," notes the director. "I thought that would be a good challenge to make that work …to take largely pre-existing Hawaiian music."

    The Descendants arrives at theaters in November, but it comes out of Toronto with a strong "buzz" as a major contender in the upcoming awards season.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    New in Music Alley

    Border Crossings: A Great Big Worldi
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    April 27, 2016 12:30 PM
    Duo Ian Axel and Chad King who are better known as "A Great Big World" released their sophomore CD in 2015, "When the Morning Comes" and they join Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from the new CD and also their biggest hit, "Say Something."

    Duo Ian Axel and Chad King who are better known as "A Great Big World" released their sophomore CD in 2015, "When the Morning Comes" and they join Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from the new CD and also their biggest hit, "Say Something."