The Descendants – the movie

If you live in Hawaii, you will understand the first line of the movie in The Descendants – only a little modified from the book – as the camera scans the homeless on benches, the laundry hanging over the freeway, the houses crammed together, George Clooney’s voiceover reminds the audience that living in Hawaii is not as perfect as it seems.  The lines in Hemmings’ book are similar…

“…everyone here has the attitude that we’re lucky to live in Hawaii; paradise reigns supreme. {but} I think paradise can go f… itself.”

The sentiment echoes a recent scene from the popular television show filmed in Hawaii: McGarrett, head of 5-0,  is pontificating on the soothing sound of the ocean; Dano responds that to some who live here, the sounds are like Chinese water torture.  Some are living here in paradise; others are in paradise lost.

Of course, the land is breathtaking, and the movie justifiably includes some of the most beautiful scenes you can imagine, many off the beaten tourist track.  The story includes local lore: almost everyone knows everyone (it’s a small island) or is related to someone who knows his cousin; the haole, who hangs out at the Outrigger Canoe Club,  has or is about to ruin the land by building condos and resorts on prime property.  If you live in Hawaii, the treat will be recognizing familiar faces as well as places – a former newscaster as a schoolteacher, a local friend as tutu (grandmother), the goat on a front lawn in Nuuanu, the tree-trimmers in Kapiolani park.

George Clooney is the good guy in this film.  The plot has him discovering that his wife, comatose from a boat-racing accident, betrayed him with a greedy realtor who would profit from the land development deal that George controls.  As a trustee, George can decide whether to sell the land to feed the family’s emptying coffers, or preserve it.  In the story, he takes the high road – which makes this fiction.  The corruption of trustees in Hawaii – those descendants who inherited from the union of Hawaiian royalty and mainland missionaries/bankers/investors – continues to be documented; the latest in the book –  The Broken Trust.

I have not read the book (and probably won’t) but the movie is worth seeing.  After all, it has George Clooney with his soulful eyes, an insider’s peek at places you won’t find in the guidebooks, and panoramic views of some of the most beautiful oceanfront land – see it before it gets developed into condos.

3 thoughts on “The Descendants – the movie

  1. I haven’t seen the movie yet but enjoyed the book, mainly for the character analysis of the two dysfunctional daughters. Anyone who has struggled with raising a teenager in today’s world will relate.

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