The Descendants

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Isn't it tragicomic, don't you think?

Grief is a hot potato. So scalding hot, in fact, that when it first touches us it feels cold. It feels as cold as guilt, an emotion that is easier to transfer because we are familiar with the process. We even have a name for the mechanism by which we do it: blame.

We have no word for the transference of grief. It is the hot potato that burns our skin so instantly that it sticks to it, and to us.

That is the first of my two theories after watching Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, the story of a family facing the imminent loss of one of its members (and at the same time its heritage) while life continues to drone by without fanfare.

Faced with sadness, we cry. Faced with tragedy, we laugh. In that sense, the death of someone dear is the most hilarious event of all. It is beyond absurd.

This leads me to my second theory: It is said, and I agree, that moving people to laughter is much harder than moving them to tears. The hardest of all, however, is moving people to tears in the face of the absurd. The Descendants does that, and if for nothing else, it is my favorite film of 2011.

Directed by Alexander PayneStarring George ClooneyShailene WoodleyJudy GreerBeau Bridges, Nick Krause and Amara Miller.

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Kian November 20, 2015 at 6:21 pm

“Every Briton of European descent is, rloghuy speaking, a sixth cousin to all others, and their joint predecessor was alive when Darwin was a young man.” I wonder if he (or someone!) substantiates that somewhere?Anthony

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