Riva/Harlequin Presents author Heidi Rice embraces George Clooney... Sorry, embraces the new George Clooney movie - a sweet, slow-burning but ultimately spot-on tale of a family in crisis.
Gorgeous George has been nominated for an Oscar for his role as a middle-aged father of two teenage girls in Hawaii whose wife is knocked into an irreversible coma after a boating accident. Matt King is the self-professed 'back-up parent'. He's never really been that present in his daughters' lives and now suddenly he's having to deal with the trauma of visiting his wife in intensive care, making decisions about turning off the life-support and being the 'up-front' parent to two young women he doesn't really know. Then he discovers that his wife was having an affair, and was about to ask for a divorce before her demise... And his life gets even more complicated as he takes his daughters and their stoner friend on a journey to locate and confront his wife's lover.
Every single character in The Descendants, from Shailene Woodley's disaffected teen to Matthew Lillard's feckless philanderer, is 100% real. There are no gimmicks here, no last-minute revelations, no easy answers to the emotional challenges facing Matt and his family... The drama and the comedy build slowing and organically from the characters, which is why their journey resonates so much. And as it was a very cold night in London when we went to see it, the lush Hawaiian locations didn't hurt either!
Frankly, I haven't been so uplifted by a film in years. This is a gem of a movie. Go see it, give it time to work its magic and you won't be disappointed — even if you're not a woman of a certain age.
Heidi's latest Riva, The Good, the Bad and the Wild is due out in March in the UK, and just happens to be a linked book to her next Harlequin Presents Extra, Cupcakes and Killer Heels, which will also be out in March in the US. Contact her on her blog, on her website, on Facebook or Twitter (@HeidiRomRice)