Bottom Line: Enjoyable, intense study of the afterlife isn’t perfect, but it’s worth a try.
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Bryce Dallas Howard, Cecile de France, Frankie McLaren, Matt Damon
Considerably underrated, supernatural drama finds director Clint Eastwood examining themes of death and the afterlife in an intense but rather mature manner. Rather than having one straightforward plot, the film intermixes three separate (but ultimately converging) stories: one of an American factory worker named George (Matt Damon), who is able to communicate with the dead, though he does not particularly wish to; another of a French TV journalist named Marie (Cécile de France), who has been affected by a tsunami, nearly resulting in her death; and a third of an English boy named Marcus (Frankie McLaren), who has been traumatized by the recent death of his twin brother, Jason.
Though dark and often emotional, HEREAFTER was a very gripping film. As in most cases, Clint Eastwood did a stellar job directing, and Matt Damon couldn’t have performed much better than he did here. Those two together create an excellent filmmaking team. One year prior to this film, Eastwood had collaborated with Damon for a rugby film entitled INVICTUS. Seeing their phenomenal director/actor teamwork then, I came to expect something from the same level with HEREAFTER. Although a decent and rather solid drama, it was not the same as INVICTUS, nor was it one of Clint Eastwood’s better films in recent years.
The best things about this film were the visuals. Even in the realistic tsunami scene, the coloration is beautifully done. Also, as Matt Damon’s character is a psychic, we often get to see artistically-done flashes of what he is envisioning in his mind while communicating with the dead.
My strong belief as to why this film received a mixed critical analysis, is that it’s just not the typical Clint Eastwood film. Critics and moviegoers are so used to Eastwood directing dramas with less intense, less complex plots. Therefore, when they watch a film like this, with an added supernatural twist, they can’t help but to give a bad review just because of the peculiarity. As I have not seen many Eastwood films (with him as director, I have only seen MILLION DOLLAR BABY, INVICTUS, J. EDGAR, and this), I do not feel disappointed in HEREAFTER too much. If you get a chance, rent HEREAFTER. I guarantee it will be worth the money, and if you as a viewer are capable of staying focused on the fairly complex plot, you are likely to enjoy it.