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George Clooney won a Golden Globe Sunday night for his starring role in “The Descendants.”
The movie has sustained favorable reviews not just because of Clooney’s smooth performance, but because of the way it conveys an archetypal family story within the context of a realistic social, historical and land development narrative about Hawaii. But what could be better looking than Clooney, or at least as easy on the eyes?
That would be the film’s undeniable boost thanks to the stirring locations. Beaches, oceans, pool clubs, palm trees and, yes, some magnificent real estate on several of the Hawaiian islands, especially Oahu and Kauai.
We’ll try not to give away the plot, but …
In a key scene, Clooney’s character, Matt King, packs up his kids and takes off from Honolulu for Hanalei Bay, where he goes looking for the real estate agent who had an affair with his now comatose wife. The scene takes place at Kauiokelani, an ancestral estate on Hanalei Bay where the 6-bedroom main house can be rented for $ 15,000 a week from the Hanalei Land Company.
The Estate is comprised of six separate accommodations. Kauikeolani, once the residence of Albert and Emma Wilcox (read about its history), remains as the central structure upon the land. The original home dates back to 1800s, at which time it was a comparably modest structure of only three bedrooms. However, as the Wilcox generations grew, so did the walls of Kauikeolani. Today, the main house is comprised of six bedrooms and six bathes, comfortably accommodating a total of twelve guests.
However, it is at one of the smaller, 3-bedroom cottages — the beachfront Nalu Beach Cottage which rents in real life for $ 5,000 a week — where King finally tracks down the vacationing real estate agent after befriending the agent’s wife on the beach.
Hanalei Bay is the same stunning, raw beach where “South Pacific” was filmed, among others.
Another co-star of “The Descendants” is the home used in another plot-thickening scene, when Clooney runs down the hill from his Nuuanu neighborhood home just north of downtown Honolulu (pictured below, right) to the home of his best friends.
The historic colonial-revival used in this scene had drawn the attention of director Alexander Payne, who worked hard to get homeowner Tiare Finney to rent the house for filming.
According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the home belonged to Finney’s parents, who bought it in 1941. The address for this property was also not disclosed.
And (Finney) knew what was coming. She had experience with film crews. Finney, 62, was a model, acted in TV commercials and worked as a stuntwoman on the original “Hawaii Five-0,” so she understood the kind of production footprint involved.
Payne used the home for a key scene with the film’s star, George Clooney, whose character in “The Descendants” knows the owners so well that he walks right into the kitchen as he yells for the residents. Payne’s roving camera angles and close-ups cemented Finney’s home in movie history.
Finney’s home, which was used as the home of Clooney/King’s friends, is filled with hundreds of pieces of art and memorabilia and very eclectic, with tropical-themed art and furnishings, historic photographs, glass fishing balls, canoe paddles, shell scapes and mounted hunting trophies. A huge sawfish bill is propped against a wall. A trio of inflated puffer fish dangle from a string, said the Star-Advertiser.
Finney and her house got a role in the movie, since Finney played one of Matt King’s cousins, Connie.