After we enjoyed seeing the popular movie The Descendants, my wife Ruth and I discussed how George Clooney, the main character, showed up as a noble man through most of the film. Despite intense stresses, emotional pain, affronts and challenges, he took the “high road” and maintained both his composure and convictions during a series of very trying circumstances.
Early in the movie, George experienced strong remorse about his troubled marriage, as his estranged wife laid in a hospital bed in a prolonged coma from a speedboat accident. He yearned for and imagined reconciliation, followed by glorious times together, including world travel. However, his wife’s doctor clearly informed him that his wife would soon be dying. He sufficiently pulled himself together to assemble a rather large group of close friends and invite them to quickly visit her before the doctors “pulled the plug.”
Soon after picking up his angry 17-year-old daughter from a boarding school, she sobered him with news that she had witnessed her mother cheating on him. One of his best male friends added insult to injury by revealing the identity of the man with whom she was having the affair, adding that his wife loved the guy and that she intended to divorce her husband. George allowed himself to experience both pain and anger without being consumed by either emotion. However, he did pursue his wife’s lover and confronted him at his beach house. In the midst of his controlled expression of anger, George proved unduly gracious in two ways: he refrained from telling the guy’s wife about her husband’s affair and he invited the lover to visit his wife before she died.
In a very tender scene just prior to his wife’s passing, George tersely, yet quite sweetly bade farewell to his comatose wife, with implied forgiveness amidst residual anger and disappointment.
George remained respectful and relatively non-defensive with his father-in-law as he received continual rebukes from him, which he apparently endured repeatedly from him during his marriage. As with his wife’s lover, he maintained genteel restraint, while reflecting ego strength.
Having been the “understudy” parent, as he termed it, George expressed great concern about adequately raising his brash, crude daughters, ages 17 and 10. As the plot progressed, the trio grew notably closer, largely due to George’s expression of genuine dismay and his authentic manliness in relating to the girls.
Finally, as the sole trustee of his Hawaiian descendants’ mass of virgin land, George took a stand against his band of cousins to preserve the family’s and state’s beautiful ocean-front property, averting gross commercialization of it. (See the movie to discover his other motive for defying his cousins’ consensual wishes.)
Ruth and I recommend this very natural, well-acted movie, in which Mr. Clooney models a lot of qualities of a newly-vulnerable man of essentially strong character.