MATT DAMON CECILE DE FRANCE FRANKIE & GEORGE MCLAREN
The musical score, the slowly enveloping plot, and the iconic cinematography all speaks to Oscar winner Clint Eastwood’s previous works that have captivated us over the years. Million Dollar Baby, Changeling and Gran Torino are his most recent drama’s, but Hereafter takes Eastwood in a few directions he hasn’t been before. It could certainly be hailed as more spiritual than science fiction, but Hereafter’s material is unlike anything we have seen Eastwood work with and it is his weakest film in years. This film also marks the first time we have seen Eastwood deal with obvious special effects, and on a big scale. The movie opens with the excitement of a catastrophe thriller, but is reduced to an extremely slow converging of three plots.
While vacationing in Asia with her boyfriend/news producer, the famous French correspondent Marie LeLay (France) along with the rest of the coast is hit by a tsunami. Marie actually dies for a matter of minutes before being revived by a couple of strangers. Her life is changed after her traumatic experience of bright light and a vision of the other side. Meanwhile in San Francisco former psychic George Lonegan (Damon) tries to put his cursed ability behind him, but people always seem to find him and beg for a reading to contact lost loved ones. In England a 12 year old boy Marcus (McLaren) must deal with the death of his twin brother, and the absence of his drug addicted mother.
Eastwood’s reasoning for taking on this project was his fascination to explore the concept of a hereafter, much like Marie LeLay in the script after her experience. While Hereafter should have been a project that effects everyone, because clearly we have all pondered the very question the movie openly proposes; instead it feels very torn between wanting to explore each character’s own individual experience, forfeiting any true emotion. Eastwood’s films have long been recognized as movies that can reach beyond any demographic to touch the audience, whether it’s the romance in Bridges of Madison County or the brutality in Mystic River. Hereafter had all the makings to once again touch the audience but those moments never happen.
Known for his exploration into the very essence of the characters he puts on the screen, here we barely seem to skim the surface. The slow development Eastwood usually uses to suck us into a film doesn’t work here; the film is long but for no good reason. The screenplay by Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) does a good job at keeping the film from diving into some typical science fiction piece, but it isn’t enough. The drama and pain is watered down to where the only excitement is watching how these three separate stories will merge into one. Eastwood’s filming style remains intact with solid editing, art direction and sound but it doesn’t come together like the rest of the great Eastwood pictures.
Final Thought – Doesn’t pack the emotional punch we expect from one of the greatest film makers of our time.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Editor: Jennifer Gih