Director: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Matt Damon, Cecil De France, Frankie and George McLaren, and Bryce Dallas Howard
In the last ten years, Oscar winner
Million Dollar Baby
Flags of Our Fathers
Letters From Iwo Jima
. The term living legend is used frequently in Hollywood. For Eastwood, that description barley does the man justice.
is not his greatest cinematic achievement but it is still one of the best movies this year. It is a solid addition to an already amazing body of work.
Eastwood presents three interconnected stories that deal with life after death. The movie opens with the beautiful
Cecil De France (High Tension)
on vacation in a scenic coastal village. The tide suddenly rushes away from the shore and a truly horrifying tsunami sequence follows. Cecil is washed away in the surge of water and before she is revived she experiences a white light and images of people around her. Upon returning to Paris, she is unable to move on with her life as a famous news anchor and is consumed with what she experienced.
In London, twins Frankie and George McLaren play Marcus and Jason. The two boys live with their alcoholic mother and are forced to take care of one another. A tragic turn of events leads to Jason's death, and Marcus must face the loss of his other half. His mother, adding to the tragedy, leaves him in foster care while she has herself committed to a rehabilitation facility. Marcus becomes obsessed with trying to communicate with the spirit of his twin.
In San Fransisco, Oscar winner
Matt Damon (Invictus and The Bourne Ultimatum)
portrays George. George is a medium who views his ability as a curse rather than a gift. He has abandoned a life as a successful psychic and works in a factory avoiding human contact. In an attempt to make friends, he enrolls in a cooking class where he meets
Bryce Dallas Howard (Twilight: Eclipse, and Spiderman 3)
. The two quickly develop a mutual attraction. After an encounter with his abilities, Howard’s character has nothing further to do with him.
Hereafter could be three separate films. Each storyline is heartbreaking and compelling. Damon’s character is the link that brings it all together in the end. The movie is undeniably slow paced and is the one draw back to the film. In an age of amazing special effects, many theatre goers will not have the patience for this type of film. I am a big fan of CGI and explosions but it was refreshing to watch a movie that could only rely on its characters and story.
The most touching moment of the film comes when Damon’s character is confronted by Marcus. The young boy is still searching to communicate with his brother. After several attempts with people pretending to contact his dead brother, Marcus holds out hope that Damon will be able to give him the answers he seeks. During the psychic reading, George connects with the spirit of Jason. George is able to ease Marcus’ greatest fear and that is a life alone without his brother and best friend. “If you’re worried about being on your own, don’t be....you’re not” he tells Marcus.
Everyone at some point will wonder about the afterlife. I have my own beliefs on the matter and I love the film does not attempt to explain it or preach a doctrine. Eastwood merely presents the material and the audience is left to make up their own mind. Hereafter focuses on the emotions that stem from death. The loss of loved ones and a life without them, the peace that we hope to find in death, and not allowing fear to limit the pursuit of a full life are all elements touched on during the movie. I know that I felt at peace and uplifted when I left the theatre and maybe a little bit more comfortable with my own hereafter.
score 8 out of 10