Hereafter

The trailers and marketing for Hereafter are very misleading. It’s no more a “Matt Damon movie” than Babel was a “Brad Pitt flick”. In fact, until Damon’s character makes an appearance, you could easily mistake Hereafter for some sort of independent foreign film. It’s very much an ensemble effort, spearheaded by director Clint Eastwood, and it features three diverse plot lines that ultimately converge in a somewhat contrived but generally satisfying way.

Hereafter starts off in Asia, where a French journalist named Marie LeLay (Cécile de France) gets swept away in a devastating tsunami and has a near-death experience that continues to haunt her in the months after the tragedy. Then we meet twin boys (played by Frankie and George McLaren) in London who go to great lengths to cover for their drug-addicted mother when social services comes knocking at their door. When tragedy strikes them, the younger twin (by a few minutes) embarks on a strange journey for answers about death and the hereafter. And finally, we are introduced to reluctant American psychic George Lonegan, who feels cursed by his ability to communicate with the dead and just wants to live a normal, blue-collar existence under the radar of life. But his gift/curse makes that impossible.

I think I spent the first hour of Hereafter wondering where the movie was headed, and the second hour wondering – well – where the movie was headed. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just different.

A fellow critic described the movie as “luxuriously paced” whereas I was more inclined to go with “kinda slow.” It is certainly well-acted, and intriguing, and interspersed with respectable moments of wry humor and poignancy. But it doesn’t reach the level of greatness that you might hope for from Eastwood and Damon, who collaborated last year on Invictus. If you pay attention, you might even catch a glimpse of what appears to be a nod to that movie, which also was good, but not great.

If you liked Babel and/or Crash, and are looking for a slow paced, thought-provoking drama, then Hereafter is definitely worth checking out. Just keep your expectations in check and wait – patiently- for all the pieces to fall into place.

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