Critic Reviews

84

Metascore

Based on 43 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
100
Payne's low-key approach only deepens the film's intimate power. Want a movie you can really connect with? The Descendants is damn near perfect.
100
It's a precarious balance, but Payne blends wit and poignancy so artfully it feels like an exquisitely choreographed dance.
100
Another beautifully chiseled piece of filmmaking - sharp, funny, generous, and moving.
100
Rarely has a contemporary movie taken in so much life and revealed it with such depth of feeling.
100
Clooney has never been better, subtler, more deeply rooted in a performance than he is in The Descendants. And he's funny, too.
100
After a five-year wait since "Sideways," Alexander Payne has made his best film yet with The Descendants. Ostensibly a study of loss and coping with a tragic situation, this wonderfully nuanced look at a father and two daughters dealing with the imminent death of his wife and their mother turns the miraculous trick of possibly being even funnier than it is moving.
100
What happens is that we get vested in the lives of these characters. That's rare in a lot of movies.
100
It's one of the year's most pleasurable American movies.
80
It makes The Descendants a tragedy infused with comedy and calls for a balancing act from filmmaker and star alike, a tightrope they navigate with nary a wobble.
80
New York Daily News
Payne's observational humor and attention to detail yield something emotionally epic. Everything from beachfront jogs to hospital confessions reveals layers of humanity and absurdity.
75
The movie itself is a worthy thing, too, but it's not as good as Clooney is here, which is to say, it's not great.
55
The Descendants is an ultra-polished picture in which every emotion we're supposed to feel has been cued up well in advance. There's nothing surprising or affecting about it. Not even Clooney, who works wonders with the occasional piece of dialogue, can save it.

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