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The Descendants by Various Artists (Review)

posted Nov 14, 2011, 8:28 PM by Kaya Savas

So, this is a rare thing for me to do. I don't usually review compilation albums or song albums, but I'm making an exception here because the movie was scored entirely with Hawaiian songs. The songs are not original but they are an important part of the emotional flow of the film. I recommend seeing the film as their function comes across much clearer when heard as segway points in the narrative. The story is about a father who is about to lose his wife after she goes into a coma after a boating accident. He now has to deal with his 2 daughters as he struggles to come to terms with himself, his marriage and his past. The film is a nice poignant tale from Alexander Payne and is worth seeing.

Off the bat I can tell you that the movie would have benefitted greatly from an original score. After seeing how the songs were used I really didn't find them to create too mich of an emotional connection between the characters and the audience. While Clooney's acting was phenomenal I did feel certain scenes would have been much better with score. The songs do become the score in some fashion very much like Alexi Murdoch's songs in Away We Go. Looking at the big picture the songs work really well, but I still think original music would have helped the film's tone and pacing issues.

The Descendants is a good film with great acting. It's not the "feel good" picture of the year, but the unique setting and soundscape should prove alluring. The soundtrack is a great compilation of songs that were handpicked to tell the story, and while they don't function as score they do create a flow. An original score sprinkled with songs would have fixed the pacing problems I had with the film, but now we're just getting into personal opinions. It's a great film so go see it, and grab this CD if you want to enjoy some sounds of Hawaii.