Published on February 7th, 2011 | by dinglesurf0
Review – Hereafter
When hard-nosed director Clint Eastwood teamed up with screenwriter Peter Morgan, famed for his expertise in writing about real life people (The Queen, Frost/Nixon, The Last King Of Scotland) one would expect them to cook up a hard hitting socio-political biopic or at the very least a gritty crime thriller. Instead what they have delivered is a slow, ponderous, “think” piece about various aspects of the afterlife. Although perhaps at a now staggering 81 (and still The Busiest Man In Hollywood™) it is not surprising that Eastwood has become curious about the supernatural and what happens to us after we die.
Hereafter follows three interweaving storylines, as a French reporter, an American medium and a London based twin are all forced to deal with how death encroaches upon their lives. The most successful thread involves Cécile De France’s reporter who, in a stunning opening set piece, suffers a near death experience when she is swept away in the Indonesian tsunami of 2004. This is a truly bone crunching sequence that is strongly influenced by the television footage of the time, as cars, telephone poles and people are ripped into deadly missiles. But this strong opening only compounds the disappointment when the rest of the film’s direction and storytelling is so pedestrian as De France goes on a quest for answers about the spirit world.
Elsewhere, we see Matt Damon’s (working with Eastwood for the second time after rugby movie Invictus) blue-collar worker struggling with his “gift” of talking to the dead. The story of him trying to make an emotional connection with Bryce Dallas Howard’s attractive cookery school partner is at least believable, if the question of him actually having these abilities is not.
It’s in the London based thread where the octogenarian director feels most like a fish out of water. The story of recently bereaved twin Marcus, dealing with the death of his brother (played at different times by newcomers Frankie and George McClaren) would not look out of place in an episode of Casualty. The two young stars become increasingly out of their depth and at times seem not to be acting at all, delivering their lines with nothing but a blank stare.
By the end the three stories are tied into a neat little bundle, but although many questions are asked, none are actually answered – Matt Damon’s character actually admitting at one point “I just don’t know kid. I just don’t know.” So instead Eastwood aims for mawkish sentimentally as he attempts to pull on the heartstrings of the audience, but unfortunately by that stage Hereafter has burnt to its own natural death.