Premiering this weekend on HBO was Clint Eastwood’s 2010 film, “Hereafter”, starring Matt Damon, Cécile de France and George McLaren.
“Hereafter” tells the story of three people who are touched by death and the afterlife in unique ways. Damon plays a psychic who can connect with the dead if he makes physical contact with a loved one. de France plays a woman who briefly “crosses over”, and McLaren plays a young boy who suddenly loses his twin brother, and has trouble coming to grips.
As one might expect of an Eastwood movie, this film is competently directed. However, it’s also overlong, slow, and frequently dull.
The movie opens with a recreation of the 2004 tsunami that occurred in the Indian Ocean. It’s a gripping scene, very frightening and realistic. During the tsunami, de France’s character is knocked unconscious, and briefly crosses over into the afterlife. Upon returning to her normal life, she finds it hard to shake the recollection of her brief experience on the other side.
McLaren plays twins of a mother with substance abuse problems. When his brother is tragically killed, he is sent to foster care. Already painfully shy, he withdraws almost completely, turning to a variety of charlatans and fake mediums in a vain attempt to contact his lost brother.
Damon plays a psychic who considers his abilities a curse. He used to make a living offering readings for the bereaved, but he found it too consuming, and it was taking too much of a toll on his own life. His reluctance to return to the practice in spite of his brother’s (Jay Mohr) encouragement, combined with the difficulties he has in developing a personal relationship in light of his “gift” are the heart of his storyline.
I think, had the movie stayed with Damon, and focused on his struggle with his ability, this movie might have stood a chance of being a good drama. But by trying to juggle three story lines, two of which are clearly not as compelling as the third, the movie winds up feeling bloated and tiresome. Ironically, for a movie entitled “Hereafter”, and based on the premise of connecting with the dead, this movie doesn’t have much to say about the afterlife aside from saying there is one. Instead, it focuses on the impact of death and near death experiences on its three leads.
Aside from the opening tsunami sequence there’s not much to recommend here, even for those seeking to ruminate on life after death.
Oh, but if they ever decide to do a spin off revolving around Bobby Bacala’s cooking class? I am IN!