Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Premise: Alternating between three different storylines, the film tells of a French journalist (Cécile De France) coping with a near death experience, a psychic (Matt Damon) whose personal life is disrupted by his gift, and a young boy (Frankie McLaren) mourning the tragic death of his twin brother.
What Works: Hereafter has several moments that showcase the impressive talents of the cast. The scenes of Matt Damon’s character bonding with a young single woman played by Bryce Dallas Howard achieve some very intense intimacy, largely due to the vulnerability and likeability of the actors. Frankie McLaren also gets several scenes in which the young actor demonstrates his talent, such as the montage of his character encountering a series of fraudulent clairvoyants.
What Doesn’t: The trouble with Hereafter is that the great acting moments are islands of purpose and emotion surrounded by an ocean of unshaped and dispassionate exposition. Despite exceeding two hours, very little actually happens in Hereafter and much of the film sends the characters on journeys that do not lead anywhere. The story of a French journalist (Cécile De France) is very hurt by this. After a terrific start in which she survives a tsunami, the film does not have a firm grip about her post-traumatic stress or how the experience might have reshaped her view. Instead, the film gives a lot of shadowy clichés of afterlife visions. Similarly, Matt Damon’s character spends most of the film complaining about what he does not want to do rather than taking proactive steps toward a goal. Like many multi-narrative films, Hereafter brings its three characters together in the end and their union does not have any significance and nothing in the story is really resolved.
Bottom Line: Hereafter is a surprising miss, especially with the talents involved including director Clint Eastwood, screenwriter Peter Morgan, producer Steven Spielberg. But there just isn’t anything to this film; it’s two hours of navel gazing that doesn’t reveal anything about life or death.
Episode: #315 (November 14, 2010)