3 out of 5 stars
Clint Eastwood explores the mysteries of the afterlife in his new film Hereafter.
Going into this film I was expecting a suspense/thriller based on aspects of the afterlife, due to what I saw in the trailer, and possibly from what I would expect based on Clintwood’s earlier films. This film turned into a dramatic character piece, which I was not expecting, but was pleasantly surprised none the less.
Matt Damon (True Grit, Invictus) gives a solid performance as a retired psychic unable to bare the burdens of his “gift”. Damon gives a very good performance and plays this difficult character very well, making an abstract circumstance quite believable.
Another noteworthy role were the twin brothers played by Frankie McLaren and George McLaren. When one is left alone after his brother suddenly dies, he is left alone with his neglectful mother, wondering where his brother has really gone, and if it is indeed possible to make contact with those who have left this world.
Cécile De France plays Marie, an author and skeptic, who after having a near death experience when trapped in the midst of a tsunami, also goes on a quest for the truth. De France gives a great performance, but lacks the emotion one would expect from someone in her position.
There is some very interesting chemistry between Damon and his love interest in the film, played by Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village, Lady in the Water). The long, up close conversations stay interesting and help to make Damon’s uncommon character very believable. The intense moments between Damon’s character, as well as Howard’s and McLaren’s, are arguably the best moments of the movie, as well as the script.
This is a film not about the afterlife, but about people, and the ways in which we wrestle with the questions of what may or may not be waiting for us after death. With a generally positive undertone, this is a film that can be enjoyed by all, regardless of personal beliefs. While this film seems to lack the depth that it could have had, it gives a well-rounded group of perspectives on the topic at hand, and all characters give emotionally charged performances that gives each of their stories the power they deserve. The way in which each story intertwines worked well, with simplicity and efficiency, though the payoff could have had more impact, if indeed the sum was equal to the parts.
While Hereafter is a very solid film, I hate to say it may be the weakest in the list Clint Eastwood’s director credits. There is no reason this film couldn’t have had the power and momentum of his other works like Letters from Iwo Jima and Gran Torino, but for some reason, it just didn’t. I am however, still very excited for future Eastwood films to hit theaters.
This film is definitely worth renting for a movie night at home, but don’t expect anything out of this world.