For years now, he’d been coasting by on roles that exploited his easy, natural charm and the rascally twinkle in his eye. Most of his leading men during the last decade fell into a recognizable pattern: loners who have a way with the ladies, but have difficulty making a commitment, to a relationship or to a cause.
That’s why “The Descendants,” aside from being one of the best films of 2011, was a really bold choice for Clooney and a game-changer for the path of his career.
He plays Matt King, a harried, hectored married father of two daughters whose existence is thrown into turmoil when his life is left comatose in a skiing accident. A detached, “backup parent” by his own admission, Matt cannot grasp the level of resentment directed at him by his oldest child, Alexandra (Shailene Woodley), until she reveals Matt’s wife had been cheating on him.
For once, Clooney was not playing the suave guy with all the answers, but the befuddled and very vulnerable man searching desperately for a way to make sense of it all.