Hereafter

Clint Eastwood, it seems, is attempting to confront his mortality as literally as possible with his newest, Hereafter. But in the process, it seems he’s not too happy with the reaction he’s getting. There’s an awful lot of what seems to be tsk tsking about a global society that refuses to publicly acknowledge the spirituality of death and what, if anything, comes after it.

Peter Morgan, who’s written fantastic films like Frost/Nixon, and The Queen, wrote the script for Hereafter.  It’s kind of a lite version of Babel, the story spans three seemingly unrelated stories across cities (San Francisco, London, and Paris) that end up sharing more in common than is immediately apparent.  There’s the authentically talented psychic (Matt Damon) who calls his skill a curse.  There’s a French television journalist, who died for a few moments while in the throes of a Sri Lanka-esque tidal wave, and has what she decides is a vision of the afterlife.  And there’s a young Brit, who loses his twin brother in an accident, and his heroin-addict mother to social services.  And in the most forced, and unbelievable scene in the film’s two hour run time, the three meet up at the London Book Fair.

Eastwood does deserve praise for the particularly well shot opening scene involving the French journalist and the tsunami she’s swept up in.  It’s tight, and dramatic and feels dreadfully realistic, literally eliciting a level of anxiety rare for even horror films.

The early scenes in France take place in French, and only turn to French-accented English half-way through the film.  But Eastwood’s antiquated version of Europe, where hospitals are quaintly historical, and secluded buildings nestled up against picturesque mountains, seems overly-simplistic.  Similarly, his British characters are never demanded more than to have serious vices, and even more serious faces.  A bit of multi-dimensionality would have have added to the ruminative tone.  Despite these complaints, Eastwood still provided a certain amount of satisfaction when it comes to these characters.  They may not be the most compelling characters, but on some level, I cared about where they were headed, and even more so, where they ended up.

Most off putting about the film, however, is its entire view of the hereafter.  It rings overly nostalgic, but at the same time, tepid in its convictions.  Perhaps this is the cynic in me.  The subject matter clearly discourages a definitive stance on the issue.  It is, after all, something no one really has first-person experience.  However, Eastwood had an opportunity to take us their with the film, and bring us back to make our own conclusions.  Instead, sentimentality, and a scarcely believable love story take center stage.

★★★☆

Comments
3 Responses to “Hereafter”
  1. Will says:

    Really looking forward to this. Sounds like it’s worth seeing, if nothing else.

  2. Blake says:

    @ Will – Looking forward to hearing what you have to say. I haven’t talked (or read from) to anyone else who’s seen it!

  3. Rene says:

    I liked the movie Clint Eastwood continues to prove to me he is an awsome director. The movie doesn’t force it’s subject matter down your throat you watch the events unfold, which to me makes for the art of storytelling. The whole movie was great from start to finish.That little British kid devotion to finding his brother was heartwarming and genuine. Keep making awsome movies Clint.

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