Hereafter

Hereafter

***

Reviewed by: Maria Realf

Clint Eastwood has directed some of the most compelling, challenging and gritty films of the past decade (think the menace of Mystic River, or the crackling tension of Gran Torino), so hopes for his latest offering were high. However, while Hereafter is at times thought-provoking in its own way, it lacks the sense of friction and urgency that have made his previous works such must-watch masterpieces. That said, an average Clint movie is still better than plenty of others, even if it does feel much longer than its 129 minutes.

The film centres on three people who are haunted by mortality in different ways: a reluctant psychic, played by Matt Damon (or Maaatt Daaaamon, as he’ll forever be known to fans of Team America); a French reporter who nearly drowns in the tsunami (Cécile de France), and a young boy tragically separated from his twin (Frankie and George McLaren). Eventually the three storylines converge in a Babel-esque manner, though this time the crossovers feel awkwardly contrived rather than smugly clever.

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Yet just as Cécile’s character sees a glimpse of the afterlife during her near-death experience, so too this movie reveals little flashes of cinematic heaven. The early tsumami scene is utterly terrifying – surely one of the best water sequences ever committed to film – and sets the tension bar so high the film never hits it again. Meanwhile later on, there is a quieter but surprisingly emotional moment when Damon’s psychic passes on an otherworldly message to his potential new love interest (Bryce Dallas Howard) – suffice to say it's not the kind of communication she was expecting.

It’s these little segments that make the film watchable, along with a reliable performance from the versatile Damon, who proves once again that he's more than just a pretty-ish face. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of his co-stars - de France is bland at best and, while the young McLaren twins' are undeniably cute, their acting is so wooden you could almost whittle a pair of clogs from it.

Like life itself, Hereafter has its fair share of highs and lows, smiles and tears, tedium and excitement. Whether you find it deep and meaningful, or just deeply dull, is up to you to decide...

Reviewed on: 17 Feb 2011
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Interweaving stories about three characters touched by death in different ways.
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