George Clooney in New York for “The Descendants” – AWARDS ALLEY

By Sean O’Connell George Clooney and the cast of Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants” descended on Manhattan Sunday for the film’s New Your premiere.

Payne’s drama, about a dishevelled father coming to terms with his estranged daughters following a family tragedy, was the Closing Night film for this year’s New York Film Festival, and critics who have been hearing about the film since its bows in Telluride and Toronto finally were given the chance to weigh in.

Slant Magazine’s Elise Nakhnikian says “The Descendants” is Payne’s “best film since the segment he directed in Paris Je T’aime” and praises Clooney’s performance by writing, “The real power of Clooney’s performance rests in his eyes, which always let us know just what [his character] is feeling, whether he’s warily greeting a cousin, confronting his wife’s lover in a near-paralyzing rage, watching his daughters in frustrated silence, or gazing into space, stunned at the news of another betrayal.”

Meanwhile, The New Yorker’s Richard Brody unveils a deeper accomplishment to Payne’s emotional feature.

“The movie catches, better than any movie I’ve seen, one of the crucial aspects of contemporary American family life: the parental tradeoff of authority for openness and complicity with children,” Brody writes.

This weekend, Clooney will be recognized with the Hollywood Actor Award at the 15th Annual Hollywood Film Awards gala for his work in “The Descendants.” Payne’s film, meanwhile, opens in limited release on Nov. 18.

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