NPR FOR THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When U Can’t

descendants_poster.jpgFRESH AIR

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Though he’s directed only five feature films, Alexander Payne has built a reputation as one of Hollywood’s most respected filmmakers. His movies find comedy in the crises of his flawed protagonists — among them Matthew Broderick as a high school teacher in Election, Jack Nicholson as a widower in About Schmidt and Paul Giamatti as a struggling author and wine snob in Sideways, for which Payne shared an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. Payne’s latest film is The Descendants, which is set in Hawaii and stars George Clooney. He plays a Honolulu lawyer named Matt who stands to inherit 25,000 acres of prime Hawaiian beachfront real estate. Matt must decide whether to sell the land to developers or keep the land pristine. At the same time, Matt’s personal life turns upside down when his wife falls into a coma after a boating accident. Her prognosis is bleak, and Clooney’s character finds himself trying to solo parent his two teenage daughters, one of whom tells him that his wife had been cheating on him throughout their marriage. Critics are giving the emotional drama rave reviews: The Los Angeles Times‘ critic Betsy Sharkey says the movie is “a tragedy infused with comedy [that] calls for a balancing act from filmmaker and star alike, a tightrope they navigate with nary a wobble.” Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travels called the film “near perfect.” MORE

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