October 23, 2010

Movie Review: Hereafter

hereafter1_largeClint Eastwood has made some great films over the years, both in front of and behind the camera. In recent years he has given us such greats as Gran Torino, Letters to Iwo Jima, and Mystic River, even Changeling was pretty good. When Clint makes a subpar film it is generally still better than a lot of other director's best films. So, that brings us to Eastwood's latest offering. Hereafter sees him teaming up with The Queen screenwriter Peter Morgan to tackle a tale that deals with death, mourning, and the afterlife in a trifecta of woven tales of people dealing with these concepts with vastly different experiences. Sounds good right? Oh yeah, Matt Damon is one of the stars.

Sadly I cannot say I liked this movie. It was slow, plodding, disjointed, and I what I felt for the characters did not feel genuine. This is the sort of movie where a lot of time was spent checking my watch and thinking about how much longer it had to go. I understand what the goal was, it just did not work for me. I think it would have been better if there was one main story and whatever else that came along was in support of that rather than trying to support three full stories and not doing any of them the justice they deserve.


One story follows George Lonegan (Matt Damon), a quiet, lonely man who appears to have a genuine connection to the afterlife. It seems legitimate and he used to make a living at it, now he just wants to leave it behind and works a blue-collar factory job. Of course, this sort of ability is not the sort of thing you can let go of or that others will let you forget.

The second story belongs to French newscaster Marie (Cecile de France) and her brush with death in an Indonesian tsunami. She finds herself contemplating the afterlife and what she believes she saw. This impacts her job and her entire life as she tries to come to terms with the experience.

Lastly is the story of Marcus and Jason (Frankie and George McLaren). Young twin boys, one of whom is killed in a tragic car accident. The survivor, Marcus (Frankie), is left to try to process this loss of the one person he has relied on the most. It is not easy and throughout the film I could not help but think this must be the saddest little boy in the world.


It is a strange film whose only drama is how these three are going to come together and find peace. They are so separated, alone, and profoundly sad that the only way this movie is going to end is in the trio finding peace in a manner that unites them in some way before the final credits role. So, there I sat wondering how they would all come to be in the same place. What device was going to allow these very different people in very different places find each other. Not to mention checking the influences of the X-Men films.

The big problem with this movie is that there never seems to be any big revelation aside from death experiences make you sad. Eastwood and Morgan clearly are going for something more, but it just comes across as ham fisted and obvious. I'm sorry. It may work for some, but for me it was dull.


I like a lot of the Matt Damon stuff and wish there was more of it. His scenes with Bryce Dallas Howard, a woman who is hiding a lot of pain, are fantastic and gone all too soon. His overall demeanor is also interesting as well, so much so that I would have loved more time exploring his psyche. The little boy was interesting but all we get is one note, I wish we got a little more texture to his plight. As for Cecile de France, again it is an interesting story but I just don't get enough of it.

The opening was pretty thrilling with Eastwood putting you right in the middle of a tsunami. It is fantastically executed and I can honesty say that I have not seen anything like that on he screen before. I also liked how it ended. I won't say how it ends, but while it feels a touch sudden it is actually effective in why it has to happen like that.

Bottomline. Not good. Yes, I liked some bits but when taken as a whole it is just a slog where it should be something more. What more? I am not sure, perhaps I just need to watch it again. Although, I am not sure it would help. This movie made me sad.

Not Recommended.

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