Hereafter (2010)

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IMDb Rating
6.5 out of 10 (view IMDb page)

A drama centered on three people who are haunted by mortality in different ways. George (Damon) is a blue-collar American who has a special connection to the afterlife. On the other side of the world, Marie (de France), a French journalist, has a near-dea

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(Based on 0 Ratings)
MPAA Rating:
129 Minutes
Drama, Fantasy
Clint Eastwood

Weekly Volcano's Review

Rev. Adam McKinney on October 20th, 2010

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I came into Hereafter worried that I might not agree with its message, being that I am an atheist. I left offended by its utter lack of invention. By the end, I was begging for spiritual intervention.

Hereafter is a story that links several lives together in a mystical confluence of fate, much in the spirit of a movie like 13 Conversations About One Thing, except Hereafter lacks the spine of a movie like 13 Conversations. Hereafter is a movie that explores death and the afterlife, but in the end comes across like a series of well-meaning, but terribly misguided, greeting cards.

The film opens with Marie (Cécile De France), a French journalist, being caught in a tsunami on an island somewhere in the Pacific. The sequence is startling, though somewhat tame as far as special effects are concerned (director Clint Eastwood is not famous for his dazzling command of visuals). While being swept away by a gushing torrent, Marie collides with a drifting car and loses consciousness. While knocked out, she sees visions of a hazy afterlife - but then she is revived.

Meanwhile - and be assured that "meanwhile" will be a common segue in Hereafter - Matt Damon is a retired psychic in San Francisco. He has given up the business because the burden of being an inter-dimensional conduit is apparently too much for him. At an early age he was blessed/cursed (what torture!) with the ability to touch someone and see their dead, ever-gabbing relatives. Not once is his psychic ability questioned, BTW.

Meanwhile, meanwhile, meanwhile, ugghhhh. ... In London, twin children are being taken care of by an alcoholic mother. Child Protective Services intervenes and one of the children is tragically killed. We're talking about death here, OK? If you find yourself marveling at what a dreadful actor the child is, look, you're a bad person. Clint Eastwood meant it to be that way, so you'd better start working up some tears, because there's like an hour and a half left.

After these thin, stupid scenarios are set up, the rest of the film dedicates itself to trudging joylessly through each of these three stories. It becomes like clockwork, the way that Hereafter seems to say, "OK, that's seven minutes for the Matt Damon storyline, and now we're going to do seven minutes of the French girl's storyline. Being that we're contractually obligated to do 120 minutes, let's make sure to get an extra dollop of the British kid's misery. You wonder if people will find this interesting? Not necessarily; but it sure does look like art."

Of course the main problem lies within the leaden, clichéd screenplay. But matters aren't helped by Eastwood's cold, mechanical style of direction. Perhaps if he wasn't so set on making a film a year he could have dedicated more time to making something special. If it weren't for Eastwood's trademark icy blues and greens, this would look like any first-time filmmaker's work. I don't mean to be egotistical, but the screenplay is so smug and clever (in that negative British connotation of "clever") that it seemed very much to me like something I would have written in high school.

Matt Damon succeeds in being puffy and charming, like he mostly is these days. He's given a boring, quiet man to work with, but he manages to breathe some life into it. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the other actors. They must have been fighting an uphill battle, and they just can't seem to rise above the lousy script and dawdling direction. A pity.

There have been many movies that have dealt seriously (and entertainingly) with the idea of death and what awaits us on the other side. At this advanced stage in the life of films, it is no longer acceptable to merely dangle the notion of death in front of our faces and expect recognition in return. Such topics have been tackled in the past, and with greater respect and creativity. In Hereafter, Clint Eastwood comes off as an excited, yet naïve, first-year college student.

Note: This is not to be confused with The Sweet Hereafter, yet another film that deals more deftly with the struggles of death. - One star

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