The last three films by Alexander Payne have been about older men dealing with some serious problems in their life, and facing a crisis. I should say right away that George Clooney does not at all change his track record with me, and proves that he most certainly is no Paul Giamatti or Jack Nicholson. Clooney as usual never really makes a mark in his part that will ever make me remember Matt King as a notable character, and actually portrays Matt King in a somewhat different way for Clooney but still the same as his other performances in terms of its success.
Clooney firstly does not give his Up in the Air "Hi I'm George Clooney" type of performances that so many believe to be charming, I don't. In fact in the role of Matt King he never really tries to be charming in any way and does indeed attempt to show Matt as more of just a man trying to go through his series of crises. Having said that though his performance is more in line with that of his performance in Michael Clayton, but like his performance in Michael Clayton there is not the required conviction in his performance or characterization to make his performance compelling.
In fact his performance is rather incompetent in many ways as he attempts to be the exasperated husband and father. I simply never bought him in the role as the man who is emotionally bent out of shape, something Jack Nicholson and Paul Giamatti succeeded with very well in their similar roles. Clooney just never seems tired enough, or truly a man who has experienced troubles of Matt King's sort in life, it just not there ever in Clooney's performance as much as he wants it to be. I will give credit that Clooney tries many things in this performance, but this actually just leads to an inconsistency in his performance.
Clooney attempts quite ineffectively to combine drama and comedy in his performance in a rather poorly conceived fashion. For example when he first learns of his wife's affair he goes running for some reason like he is one of his films for the Coen brothers. Than he confronts someone about it with the utmost seriousness. There is not any sort of logic for Clooney to do this in this scene, he does anyway, which causes him never to turn Matt King into a compelling character in any fashion. He truly fails to bring us into Matt's mindset and problems at any point in the film.
I must say much of the time Clooney is just going through the role with the same uncertainty throughout in his performance, there is not a single scene where he really finds a way to make his performance compelling. He fails to ever really brings Matt's problems to life even in the what should be some compelling scenes that one would think would automatically bring it out. That is the scene with his wife's lover, Clooney is bizarrely dull throughout the whole affair, there is not even signs of repression anger or anything like that.
He plays almost all of his scenes with his typical lacking in conviction Clooney fashion. The only scene he really does more is his final scene with his wife where he finally breaks down, and says goodbye. It wants to be the heartbreaking "Oscar" scene, but Clooney is frankly at his worst in this scene. He frankly wants to rush through the scene, and is not convincing for a moment. He is just clearly "acting" during the whole scene and he fails to bring a single genuine emotion into the scene. This is a poor performance by Clooney, and I will be very annoyed if I have to add "won his second Oscar" to this review.