Friday, December 2, 2011

THE DESCENDANTS by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Our friend narrator Jonathan Davis reads THE DESCENDANTS by Kaui Hart Hemmings on audio, which became the movie starring George Clooney.  It concerns the trustee and part owner of a pristine parcel of Hawaiian beachfront property whose wife is in a coma, and who then learns she's been having an affair (with whom is yet another kicker.)  Now Mr. King must attend to his family in a way he's neglected up to now, particularly his daughters.  Hawaiian cousins there are many, and most of them hope to be rich soon, which puts this decision maker in a pickle in deciding whether to sell, and to whom.  As a debut novel, it's a believable and quirky work, and Hemmings is particularly adept at framing dialogue which sounds authentic, while ringing truth from a man's mid life crisis.  Davis too is excellently matched at rendering the text even more believable on audio, as his skills at character creation and balance of tone are amplified by his consistent and unerring sense of development or evolution.  Having seen the film, I can recommend it, too.  Clooney has a gift for inhabiting a character's persona, and he is comfortable at being uncomfortable in King's skin.  Both seriously sad and funny at the same time, the film and book are reminiscent of the book and movie "Sideways," and indeed both movies have the same director.  Which movie is better is a matter of taste, and although it is perhaps unfair to compare films, they are both similar in tone as well, (as was "About Schmidt," another incredible--albeit small--film directed by Alexander Payne, the source book of which was narrated by George Guidall.)  I suppose I'll not see "The Descendants" again, although I'm glad I did see it.  On the other hand, I wouldn't mind seeing "Sideways" again (or "About Schmidt" just for its uniquely emotional ending), since the self destructive hilarity of these films, together with their touching self revelations, are truly memorable.  (The audio version for "Sideways" was narrated by Scott Brick.)  Director Payne is certainly someone to watch, and despite his comments on Charlie Rose that he's just making nice films he doesn't think are particularly important ("$$$"), these are just the kind of films that Hollywood needs to make more of---as opposed to big, loud, and trashy 3D special effects blockbusters with 1D characters.  These three movies are certainly among my own favorites.

1 comment:

  1. I will definitely see the move, and likely read the story again (a few times). It will be one that with each 'exposure' you will pick up a few more nuances to the story, or a few more of the subtleties.