February 14, 2012
By Nick Galasso
Release Date: Nov. 18, 2011
Director: Alexander Payne
Starring: George Clooney; Shailene Woodley; Judy Greer; Beau Bridges; Nick Krause; Amara Miller; Matthew Lillard; and Robert Forster
Production: Fox Searchlight Pictures, Ad Hominem Enterprises
Runtime: 115 minutes
Director Alexander Payne gives us his first film since 2004’s Sideways, bringing us another solid entry to his already fantastic filmography. Like all of his preceding films, this is a very performance-heavy film. And like all of his preceding films the performances are top-notch; led by an always wonderful George Clooney. Another noteworthy performance comes from newcomer Shailene Woodley who brings such a natural realistic feel as she perfectly nails the role of the brooding teenager that some of us usually love to make fun of. One of the film’s major themes is the messiness of life – although it never treats its subject matter like one big overblown mess, taking instead a much more subtle low-key approach. The natural feel we get from Woodley’s performance reflects the overall feel of the film – there’s a very even balance between comedy and drama that never feels jarring as it transitions from one tone to another bringing us a funny warm and very emotional experience. This shows us that Payne is still a master of portraying some of the most human stories out there.