Provided you’ve seen any form of marketing for Hereafter, from TV spots to trailers, you’ll expect the opening tragedy. As a tsunami rips through a village we watch as a woman scrambles to save her life. With the exception of this first sequence, your expectations might be a little different from what Hereafter actually is.
For a film with a title in reference to a place where the deceased pass on to, it thrives on telling the story of those who remain in our world. Instead of jumping to the meat of the story, Peter Morgan’s screenplay takes its time to settle you into any sort of momentum. This would be difficult to accept in a lot of other films but with Clint Eastwood’s subtle direction and gentle, if non-existent score, it’s perfectly paced, something that might not appeal to general American audiences.
Hereafter follows the lives of three people. Marie, a French journalist while on vacation is among the victims in a tsunami. After dying for a moment and being brought back from death, she becomes focused on opening societies eyes to the true idea of an afterlife. Marcus is a young boy who loses his brother in a tragic accident. After his mother enters the system for her drug problem he is forced to live with foster parents but is consumed with speaking with his brother one last time. George is a psychic/medium who has left the business of doing readings. He wants to live a normal life that is separate from that of the world of the dead. All of these plot threads play out separately but in the end weave together to make this tale complete.
Probably the most distracting aspect of this film is the casting of Matt Damon. Although perfectly executed, his presence makes you believe that he is the sole protagonist in this movie, making it hard to balance the importance of each of our leads. No complaints in regards to his acting, he did a great job personifying someone who is going through life trying to avoid human contact. Despite that, the scene he had with Bryce Dallas Howard in the night school class showed how intimate two people can be without actually touching.
Hereafter was probably released later in the year to be an early contender in the Oscar race, but don’t expect any elements in this film to have what it takes to make it that far. Clint Eastwood puts more or less all of the best elements together to create a good film but it really lacks the vigor to make a long lasting impact.
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements including disturbing disaster and accident images, and for brief strong language.