In his New Yorker review of The Descendants, Anthony Lane describes the third-act encounter between George Clooney‘s Matt King and Matthew Lillard‘s Brian Speer. The latter’s “little-boy grin, though ideal for selling real estate, tells of panic rather than cheekiness,” Lane writes, “and Brian’s encounter with Matt is not a clash of rutting males but a semi-polite standoff between two fleshy, faltering souls, striving to live up to the brazenness of their shirts.

“We have seen such leisurewear before, on Frank Sinatra and Montgomery Clift, as they toured the local bars, in From Here to Eternity. Both films are infused with the atmosphere of their Hawaiian setting, and its strange compound of chillout and treachery. Everyone remembers Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr rolling in the surf, but stay with that scene and you soon find it foaming with accusation and shame. Something similar happens to The Descendants, with damp squalls and difficult mists nagging at the edge of people’s amicable warmth.

“Both films conclude, too, with floral garlands cast into the ocean, though [director Alexander] Payne provides an aftermath — a delicious downtime, in which Matt and his children sit on the couch with ice cream and watch TV. Death, which has loomed ahead throughout, begins to drift away behind them, and the film completes its journey: from eternity to here.”