If your husband was a wealthy lawyer, and an heir to 25,000 acres of gorgeous Hawaiian land and, oh yes, he looked exactly like George Clooney, would you leave him for a gooky, big-toothed glad-handing real estate agent (“Scooby-doo’s” Matthew Lillard)? Sure.

If you can suspend your disbelief, and give it up for a very well-made real tear jerker, you will adore “The Descendants,” adapted from Kaui Hart Hemmings’ novel, and directed by Alexander Payne who gave us the brilliant “Sideways.” Payne knows his camera and loves his actors.

Yes, the gorgeous George Clooney is Matt King, a semi-hapless Honolulu lawyer, who doesn’t need the firm’s money, because he is the great-great grandson of Hawaii’s ancient King Kamehameha. Matt is the trustee for all of those incredible soon-to-be-sold-off acres where “Lost,” “Hawaii Five-O,” and all those other island movies were filmed.

The film opens with great Hawaiian ukelele music and Matt’s voice as we tour, warts and all, what mainlanders think is paradise. We see the 99 percenters of paradise saddled with the troubles of the mainland, homeless Hawaiians pitching tents in the shadow of Diamond Head, aging surfers in the unemployment lines. We know that our Matt is a progressive because despite his wealth, his home is modest, and he is troubled by what he sees and the encroaching parking lot luxury hotel tsunami that he may be contributing to.

But this is Matt’s story and in the very opening credits, we meet a beautiful blonde woman water-skiing. This would be Elizabeth, (Patricia Hastie) Matt’s lovely wife. Minutes later, she is in an accident and falls into a coma and the tale unfolds.

Matt, a serious man who seems to have no life outside his work, has been busy for the last 20 years managing this vast hold of land, held in trust for himself and many cousins, and performing his secondary job of running a law firm. Matt describes himself as a “back-up parent.” His youngest daughter, Scottie (Amara Miller) a charming off-beat darling, is given to us as a feisty piece of work who makes trouble at school, but enjoys a warm space in her family’s troubled hearts. Miller is a jewel.

We find big sister Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) over on another island, safely ensconced, it seems, in a private school. Matt brings her home to help heal the family pain. Not a good idea. Alexandra may have a drinking problem and a few run-ins with popular drugs, but she’s too smart and too well bred for nose rings and nipple tattoos. Alexandra hides a secret. Hold on. It’s coming.

Now, Mama lies in a hospitable room tied to machines and tubes, and Matt finds the man-of-the-house ball in his court. We have all read and heard too much about this novel and film to think we’re in “Parent-Trap” land. There is a fuse smoldering here, and when the bomb goes off, we’re all covered with the truth. “Oh, Daddy, you really don’t have a clue, do you,” Alexandra finally sighs.

Daddy looks confused. This is when Matt, and we, find that Mama has been having an affair with the smarmy real estate guy. The good wife has been cheating on George Clooney. Yes.

So now Matt, conflicted by his role as the deciding vote on the deal that will make him and his 20 islander cousins all rich, is punched in the heart by a classic betrayal and a dying wife. This is a burden few men could handle without Jesus or Jack Daniels, but this is Matt King, a man some l6th-century writers would describe as a man with “a pure heart and the courage of 10.” And here is where I slipped away.

Make no mistake. “Descendants” is a well-made movie packed with fine performances, beautifully filmed and written. It will fill many seats and probably garner the whole panoply of gold. There won’t be a dry eye in the house at the final scene. But George Clooney as a cuckolded, hapless, confused husband? I don’t have enough money to buy that.

I may be unfair. Maybe it’s because that 8×10 package of “Clooney” has been paraded before us for decades as Mr. Cool, assassin, cynical salesman, light comic, CIA guy, Vegas thief, and OMG, Batman, has formed him unfairly in our collective minds as heir to Clark Gable and Cary Grant. But this is personal. What is clear is that Clooney is the consummate film actor, and in his last scene in the hospital room with his dying wife, he proves that once again. But to trot him out in a role that had a Colin Firth, Paul Giamatti, or Phillip Seymour Hoffman written all over it, was a bridge too far.

J.P Devine is a former stage and screen actor.

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