Clooney’s Paradise Lost

The main character of the new movie The Descendants, played by George Clooney, is Matt King, but he isn’t very regal. He has quite the pedigree —descended from Hawaiian royalty and missionary bluebloods — but in sad reality he isn’t much of a man: He’s not a lord even of his own tony bungalow. And yet, as luck would have it, he’s going to be very rich once he completes a deal to sell off the unspoiled tract of Hawaiian land his family has held on to since the 1860s. This has prompted numerous reviewers to call him a “land baron,” but he is more aptly a Trustafarian — and an accidental one at that. He must now, thanks to the law of perpetuities — nothing lasts forever, after all — wind down all the fruit of all of the familial accomplishments that have come before him.

This deal will make him and his ne’er-do-well cousins “very, very, very rich,” he tells us, in one of the film’s opening voice-overs. He already lives very well, dining at the famed Outrigger Club; we like him anyway because he eats out of Tupperware dishes and has made good (and done well) in the law practice he has founded. (Everyone in Hawaii is seemingly either a lawyer or a real-estate broker; King is a real-estate lawyer.)

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