Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Will film version of 'The Descendants' live up to novel's promise?


When we were honeymooning in Hawaii in late September and early October, I read a hotel magazine article about an upcoming George Clooney film called "The Descendants."

Filmed on Oahu and Kauai, the film is based on a novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings about Matt King, a Hawaiian native who suddenly becomes a de facto single parent to his two daughters when his wife slips into a coma following a boating accident. He also soon finds out she was cheating on him. And he has to decide whether to sell long-held family land to a developer.

Matt has to deal with all this upheaval while trying to figure out how to be a better parent as well as navigating the divide between him and his oldest, estranged daughter.

I remembered seeing the film's theatrical trailer over the summer and was intrigued when the director, Alexander Payne, said in the article he wanted to "see Honolulu filmed (accurately) on the big screen."

I checked the book out of the library after returning from Hawaii. "The Descendants" is a charming, quirky novel. Hemmings writes with a fresh, contemporary voice. By the time I reached the final page, I felt like I'd spent some time with three-dimensional characters.

I could write 20 blogs about the film adaptations of favorite books that proved to be disappointments. (A much shorter blog could be written about the ones I like.)

Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to seeing this novel come to life, as well as seeing contemporary Hawaii on the big screen.

"The Descendants" opens nationally this week. We'll see if the film lives up to the novel's promise.

You can see the theatrical trailer here.

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