Some very well selected trailers before the movie got us in the mood for an emotional 2 hours. The two trailers were Stephen Daldry’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock.
Next up a lovable bunch of oldies including Bill Nighy, Judi Dench and Maggie Smith star in John Madden’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. There’s perhaps a bit too much niceness for it’s own good but it looks like a laugh.
Alexander Payne directs his first feature film since his award winning Sideways, has it been worth the 7 year wait? In a word, yes.
George Clooney plays Matt King, a lawyer and land baron who has neglected his family life to the point he doesn’t really know his children and after his wife is in a boating accident it’s revealed he didn’t know her as well as he thought.
Embarking on a journey to discover the man his wife was going to leave him for, Matt takes his two daughters Scottie and Alexandra, and Sid, Alexandra’s latest boyfriend. Now at this point it would be easy to say the Matt goes on a voyage of self discovery and ultimately becomes a better man for it. Whilst this is true, to simplify this wonderful adaptation of Kaui Hart Hemmings book would be an insult.
As if balancing the family troubles wasn’t bad enough, Matt has to make an important decision about selling a large area of land that will make him and his family very rich. The land in question was an inheritance from his descendants and the trust is going to be dissolved in 7 years. Facing pressure from his cousins and other family members (including Beau Bridges) to sell or keep the land.
Everything about the movie is likable, you’re happy just to spend time with the characters and the scenery is stunning. Clooney is completely worthy of his nomination, it’s not a huge stretch for the actor as he is just playing George Clooney. This may sound like a negative comment but I assure you it isn’t, we’ve seen him take on heavy roles and his work behind the camera continues to grow into an impressive body of work. Like a fine wine Clooney gets better with age, and it’s a knockout performance which he seemingly does with ease.
Shailene Woodley who plays the older of Matt’s children Alexandra, gives a standout performance and she’s definitely an up and coming actress to keep an eye on. The only complaint I have is a very minor one, Matthew Lillard appearing as the man Matt’s wife had an affair with was a little unbelievable. I mean come on, women of the world would you cheat on gorgeous George with Shaggy from Scooby Doo!
That aside it was a moving, charming and life affirming movie that deserves all the praise and success it has been greeted with. However, for me this year the Best Actor Oscar belongs to Gary Oldman (even though he won’t win), sorry George.