'This Descendants' lacked any sort of pulse or movement for me. The two currents of the story- the selling of a piece of land, and the impending death of Clooney's wife- both lacked any sort of depth or development. The plot follows an entirely predictable course, in a tired sort of a way, and seems to trip over itself in its wish to appear 'bittersweet.' There is a constant tepidness which characterises the whole thing; the corollary effect of the director trying to balance a sense of realism against the emotional highs and lows facing his characters. Perhaps it didn't work for me because I didn't feel these characters at any point believable- they seem to stay unwaveringly within their stereotypes; and consequently all are uniformly softened by the 'feel good' tone of the ending. The child actors were fantastic however, faced with what seemed to be a totally flat script.
The cinematography was at points interesting. The final shot particularly, was a clever touch, as we find the family staring into a screen, as we stare similarly back at them; however these artful moments felt somewhat out of place.
Moments of brightness, a fantastic, plucky soundtrack; but a film generally lacking in execution.