Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Descendants (2011)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Descendants (2011)

In Alexander Payne's Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar-winning, heart-wrenching drama set in Hawaii:

  • the character of an indifferent husband and beleaguered father, mildly-disheveled Honolulu lawyer Matt King (George Clooney), inept while dealing with the tragedy of his wife Elizabeth (Patricia Hastie) suffering a waterskiing accident off of Waikiki, and in a terminal coma (surviving only with life-support equipment)
  • Matt's opening disenchanted voice-over narration about Hawaii: "My friends on the mainland think just because I live in Hawaii, I live in paradise. Like a permanent vacation - we're all just out here sipping Mai Tais, shaking our hips and catching waves. Are they insane? Do they think we're immune to life? How can they possibly think our families are less screwed-up, our cancers less fatal, our heartaches less painful? Hell, I haven't been on a surfboard in 15 years. For the last 23 days, I've been living in a paradise of IVs and urine bags and tracheal tubes. Paradise? Paradise can go f--k itself"
  • the scenes with his two daughters while serving as a hands-off "backup parent": sassy, resentful and reckless 17-year-old Alexandra (Shailene Woodley), and forlorn 10-year-old Scotty (Amara Miller) in open rebellion against his parental authority
  • Alexandra's devastating revelation to her clueless, workaholic father that her love-neglected mother was involved in domestic betrayal and planned to divorce him: "You really don't have a clue, do you?...Dad, Dad. Mom was cheating on you!"
  • Matt's comic, sweaty duck-legged dash (in inappropriate plastic flip-flops) to his nearby neighbors' house to hopefully learn the name of his wife's lover
  • Matt's two solo scenes at his wife's bedside, first expressing his anger: "The only thing I know for sure is you're a goddamn liar," and then in the second instance when he kissed her and sobbingly said "Goodbye, my love, my friend, my pain, my joy, Goodbye"
  • the long search, stalking and ultimate confrontation with the cheating real estate agent, Brian Speer (Matthew Lillard), who was married to cheated-upon, unaware wife Julie Speer (Judy Greer), and vacationing in a cottage on Kauai
Matt Stalking Real Estate Agent Brian Speer
Who Had Been Cheating With His Wife
  • Matt's final decision not to sell out an immense land trust he managed for his extended haole family, 25,000 acres of unspoiled land on the island of Kauai - the last untouched paradisical inheritance of Hawaiian royalty to be developed, to reap an enormous payoff - to spite his avaricious, affable and dissolute cousin Hugh (Beau Bridges), and possibly to deprive Speer of a rich commission
  • the ending scene (under the credits), in silence, as the reconciled family sat together on the sofa, under their mother's quilt, eating ice cream and watching March of the Penguins (2005) (narrated by Morgan Freeman)

Matt King
(George Clooney)

17-year-old Alexandra King (Shailene Woodley)

Matt's Race to Neighbor's House

Bedside Scenes With Dying Comatose Wife Elizabeth

King with Cousin Hugh (Beau Bridges)

Ending Scene


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