Hereafter (2010)

March 18, 2011 By Mike B
Movie Review

What Worked?

Ghosts, spirits, and the afterlife are typically the components of the Horror genre, but Clint Eastwood inserts those mysteries in the real world. Where do we go after we die? Are we anything after our lives end? Eastwood tackles these questions with his cinematic eye in Hereafter, looking at the lives of three individuals that have deep experiences with death. The film contains inspired performances from Matt Damon and company, and brisk direction from Eastwood, making for a neatly reflective experience of what death is a door to.

The usual Eastwood style is applied to the film: simple shots, strong contrast of light and dark, and a moody cinematic eye. Eastwood boldly incorporates glimpses of what the afterlife may look like, which is a foggy world of faceless silhouettes, and it works because of its simplicity. There’s no indication of what side, heaven or hell, is being depicted, but rather it simply is the afterlife.  As usual, Eastwood does well building up the drama in some intense scenes, and even utilizes CGI where appropriate in the disaster scenes. The tsunami scenes are done well, and at times poetic even, as the camera is being dragged through the chaos and follows a character plunged into the raging waters.

The story follows three main characters: Marie, George, and Marcus. All do rather well in their respective stories, with no true standout. Cecile De France plays Marie,  a journalist who finds a new appreciation for life after having technically died for mere seconds. Matt Damon plays George, a retired genuine psychic that is tired of being a medium for the living and the dead. Finally, Frankie and George McLaren play Marcus and Jason, who are twin brothers. Jason dies from a tragic accident, and Marcus builds a wealth of curiosity for what happens after death.  De France expresses a sense of appreciation, breaking in soft smiles and eager curiosity in her eyes for what she experienced. Damon does well as the lonely man with a special burden, who could have the answers to death but does not pursue them. The McLarens put in fine performances, mostly playing Marcus who is dead inside without closure.

Many questions may run through your mind as the film rolls. You interact with the film, take it in and apply the unearthed or buried ideas to your own life. How will you deal with the finality of death? This film feels accessible for those who believe and those who don’t, as the material is refreshing either way. Eastwood is even bold enough to create hints of what the afterlife might be like: the ability to be all things at once, and a feeling of weightlessness. Death is such a touchy subject, but this film will at least spark some enlightening discussions about it.

Potential Drawbacks:

The film involves the audience with the characters curiosity of their involvement with the afterlife, but does a mediocre job at completely capturing the audience emotionally. The actors do a fine job, but we don’t really get into their shoes, unless of course you have had your own brush with death to relate to one of the characters.
In addition, the film feels too neat, especially for a film dealing with a subject that can never have any real closure.  There is also the complaint that the film feels tedious, and not complex enough for such a massive subject.

Film Recommendations:

The Orphanage
What Dreams May Come
21 Grams

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