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The Descendants 2011 ***

Alexander Payne goes lush and glossy in this pre-Nebraska drama, but his world-view is as sharp as ever. George Clooney plays Hawaiian Matt King, whose wife lies in a coma after a boating accident, and who is struggling to reconnect with his daughter Alexandre (Divergent star Shailene Woodley) . Discovering that his wife was having an affair, he pulls his family together on an unlikely bonding mission; to track down the man responsible. This meshes with a wider storyline in which Clooney has to decide who in his family should inherit a slice of coastline; The Descendants looks carefully at the moral issues involved and comes to the conclusion that the right thing can be done for the wrong reason; Clooney and Woodley both rise to the task of creating a real, complex father-daughter relationship.

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