My Summary: The film is based off the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings, which I reviewed back in July. You can read my book review here. In summary, I really loved the book. It was strangely lighthearted though it dealt with grim subject matter.
It is about a family torn apart by a tragic accident that leaves a mother in a coma. Left to deal with his two daughters, a precocious teen struggling to remain drug free and a young tween, influenced by everything and anything, this father must step in and be the caregiver while dealing with his own personal issues and grief.
Sidenote: I was lucky enough to see this film at the Hawaiian International Film Festival and was lucky enough to witness Alexander Payne (Sideways) receive the Vision in Film award presented by HIFF.
My Review: So this review is long over due. Let me just start out of the gate by saying I enjoyed the film very much. For me, Payne brought the book to life. From the extraordinary soundtrack with Hawaiian music transitioning the cast between scenes to the gorgeous scenery that was displayed on the widescreen. To hear and see Hawaii, is enough to evoke emotions. It is a beautiful setting which hauntingly, is not what it appears.
Having read the book, I already knew what to expect. But to see George Clooney play a father struggling with infidelity and tragedy, was spot on. He embodied the character that I had envisioned in my head while reading the novel and let me tell you THAT rarely happens.
Also, the two young actors that play his daughters were perfect. Shailene Woodley is a beautiful young starlet that did a fantastic job opposite Clooney. In fact, I thought it was between her and Clooney that held the film together. They had really good chemistry together as father/daughter.
To look at the summary, this film might be construed as a downer film and maybe something that you wouldn't want to see over the holidays. Oh, but it's better than that. It's a film about family and what it means to be family. It has humor, Clooney's dry wit and good looks, gorgeous Hawaii scenery and Payne's outstanding directorial visions. It is a complete package and well worth the ticket price.
If you have not read the book, by all means, do! And if you are looking for a film to see over the Holiday weekend besides Breaking Dawn, check out The Descendants.
Cast and Credit:
Directed by Alexander Payne
George Clooney-Matt King
Shailene Woodley-Alex King
Amara Miller-Scottie King