Written by David Hudson
A film tied to three interconnecting stories, Hereafter is a meditation on what happens to us after we die. It kicks off in spectacular fashion. French TV news presenter Marie (CÃ©cile de France) is on tropical island holiday when a dramatic tsunami strikes. She drowns, but is revived â€“ dying just long enough to get a glimpse of what may await her on the other side. The experience changes her outlook on life, leaving her searching for answers.
In London, a boy, Marcus is sent reeling when his identical twin (George McLaren and Frankie McLaren) is killed in a traffic accident. Placed in foster care because his motherâ€™s a heroin addict, he too finds himself seeking answers â€“ desperately trying to find out if his brother is still â€˜out thereâ€™ and able to help him.
Finally, thereâ€™s George (Matt Damon), someone with a true psychic power to connect with the dead, but who finds such power more a curse than a gift. His wisecracking older brother, Billy (Jay Mohr) wants him to exploit his powers for financial gain, but George just wants to lead a normal life.
Films concerned with the afterlife appeal to the sense of curiosity in all of us, and they have a long and varied history, with such classics such as A Matter Of Life and Death offering up iconic cinematic moments. Unfortunately, Hereafter is unlikely to be regarded as a screen great, which is all the more baffling given the pedigree behind it. It was written by Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon), produced and directed by Clint Eastwood, and executive produced by Steve Spielberg.
With such a pedigree, why then does it misfire? Well, Matt Damon remains an engaging screen presence, and itâ€™s his story that audiences will find the most arresting as he struggles to reconcile himself with his special powers â€“ attending cookery night classes and working as a construction worker in a desperate attempt to be â€˜normalâ€™. However, he is but a third of the tale, and after the initial shock of Marieâ€™s tsunami and Marcusâ€™ bereavement, the quest upon which both characters find themselves is not sufficiently dramatic. Marie battles to write a book about her experiences and not be dismissed as a â€˜David Icke-styleâ€™ crank, while Marcus steals money to consult bogus mediums.
Eventually, the characters come together in an ending that attempts to tie up loose ends in an all-too convenient and sentimental fashion. Eastwood canâ€™t resist upping the saccharine factor (not helped by an unusually whimsical score) in what, sadly, is a disappointing effort after an impressive run of recent movies (Gran Torino, Changeling, Letters from Iwo Jima).
Last edited: 27th January 2011
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