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Movie Review: Hereafter (October 22, 2010)

Director: Clint Eastwood
Screenplay: Peter Morgan
Release Date: October 22, link 2010
Actors: Matt Damon, online Cecile de France, ambulance Frank McLaren, George McLaren, Thierry Neuvic, Jay Mohr, Bryce Dallace Howard

Hereafter presents a different kind of Clint Eastwood film, in the sense that his previous films have a feeling of cynicism, and sadness, bringing about death. Hereafter are the questions of what happens after death.

Hereafter brings together three characters, living in different parts of the world, touched by death in one form or another. We are first introduced to Marie Lelay (Cecile de France), who is currently on vacation in Thailand with her boyfriend and producer. In a few fateful events, with an unbelievable job of CG, the huge tsunami hits and everything is swept away in its path, including Marie. She gets knocked unconscious and has a bout with death, and what she thinks is the afterlife.

In another corner of the world, we meet young brothers Marcus and Jason (George and Frank McLaren), a set of twins only separated by a mere 15 minutes. They live in a fairly sad environment, where their mom is clearly an alcoholic. Running an errand for his mom, Jason ends up being sadly killed, leaving Marcus to deal with his sense of loss and dark and empty void.

Lastly, we see George (Matt Damon), a former psychic who has the ability to communicate with the afterlife. With the burden of constantly speaking with the dead, George feels that in order to live, he must leave behind the dead.

All three characters cross paths in a way that is believable, in a way that I could meet any of you upon happenstance.

Hereafter presents the slow, methodical pacing we have become familiar with in regards to Clint Eastwood’s works, but what is special about Hereafter is though the story is about the afterlife, it doesn’t tie the story up into a neat bow with some fantastical ending. In fact, Hereafter doesn’t really resolve … anything. Hereafter is very much a character driven film, in which we get a peek into three lives and we are presented with ideas and possibilities. Never being too preachy or in your face, it is felt that Eastwood is simply there to tell his story, without trying to persuade you to believe or not to believe in his set of conditions. Whether you believe in the afterlife or have any religious leanings is of no consequence to Clint Eastwood, as Hereafter seems to be.

I don’t think however, that Hereafter really initiates much discussion about life after death. What is presented it seems. is what is. The cinematography – that grittiness, that realism, makes it believable that Matt Damon would have the ability to communicate with the dead, and it seems that Marie really did have an experience about the afterlife. I never once even thought to myself “How hokey”. All the actors were talented in their roles, and extremely believable. Matt Damon’s George reminded me of someone who was not comfortable in their own skin (which he clearly wasn’t).

The use of music is very effective, as well as the lack of music in certain scenes. The short interactions between Bryce Dallas Howard and Matt Damon were endearing and added some humor and wit, as did the scenes in which Marcus is searching for answers. The movie is slightly long, and could have been edited down slightly. It moves at the pace of a typical European movie (or so I felt), and I definitely don’t think this is a movie for those who only enjoy action and thrillers. The only moment that I thought was slightly over the top was the ending, which did not fit well with the rest of the film, and I question the decision of why it was left in. Otherwise, Hereafter is a very thoughtful film, a look into the journey of three characters who are in a very difficult time in their lives.

If that was Clint Eastwoood’s goal, he certainly achieved it. I would heartily recommend Hereafter. 3.5 hereafters / 5 hereafters

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