You don’t really know what to expect when you sit down to watch “Hereafter”. I went in thinking it would be something similar to the dreadful “What Dreams May Come”, but I’m glad it wasn’t. What I got instead was something fascinating, thought provoking and unforgettable. “Hereafter” grabs your attention from the first minute, with a shocking and frighteningly believable depiction of a tsunami. But what follows in the aftermath is what is truly amazing. The film cleverly divides itself among three separate stories: the aftermath of that disaster for a french TV journalist and host (Cecille De France) who briefly died but was brought back to life, a young boy whose twin died in a horrific accident, and a clairvoyant in San Franciso (Matt Damon) who no longer wants to use his gift to speak with the dead because he regards it as a curse (can you blame him?).
Director Clint Eastwood tells his story slowly but surely. I think he has always exhibited a fondness for developing his characters rather than the plot itself, but here he even went further than ever before. The film has almost no plot, no heroes, and no villains. The best scene comes right at the start instead of at the end, and death is the starting point for both the characters and the plot rather than the climax. I was absorbed at every turn, even when I had no idea where this was heading. The actors are fantastic aswell; Matt Damon gives one of his best performances as the lonely psychic who aches for a normal relationship and who goes to sleep listening to Charles Dickens audio books. I’ve never seen him so tender on screen, and one cannot help but feel sympathy for him. Cecille De France is also terrific here, both smart and fragile, and the McLaren twins give such an honest performance aswell.
“Hereafter” doesn’t imply that there is an after life. It doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, and I don’t think it was trying to in the first place. It simply asks the questions, and does so cleverly. Eastwood has always been a terrific director in my opinion, but ever since “Mystic River”, I found he’s so much more. To quote Roger Ebert: Hereafter “is a film of a man at peace. He has nothing to prove except his care for the living.” And Eastwood has so much care, so much love. He’s 80 years old but still in his prime. He still has so much to offer, and I for one cannot wait.
Categories: The Twenty-First Century