The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Hereafter

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Hereafter

As a movie director Clint Eastwood has built a reputation as one of America’s finest. He is a master filmmaker who consistently delivers solid, first rate, emotionally riveting films. Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby and Grand Torino are a few that come to mind. Now at the of 80, even though he shows no signs of retiring, it is no surprise that he would be interested in tackling the subject of death and thoughts about the afterlife.

Hereafter follows the lives of three individuals from different parts of the world that are touched by death in different ways. Reminiscent of movies such as Crash, Traffic and Babel, writer Peter Morgan’s (“Frost/Nixon,” “The Queen”) script shifts back and forth between the three storylines, with the characters’ lives eventually intersecting.

The opening sequence of the movie is nothing short of spectacular. Amazing cinematography and CGI effects, blended with live action, recreates the horrifying 2004 Tsunami in Indonesia that brought death and destruction in its wake. After nearly drowning at the beach resort where she was vacationing with her boss/lover (Thierry Neuvic), French TV reporter Marie Lelay (Belgian born actress Cécile de France) is left haunted by her near death experience and visions from the afterlife. Forever changed by the experience, Marie rethinks about writing a political book for her awaiting publisher and instead decides to write about what happened to her.

In England, 12 yr. old Marcus (portrayed by real life twins George and Frankie McLaren) is depressed and for good reason. His alcoholic, drug addicted mother is unable to care for him and he is searching for answers after the person closest to him, his identical twin brother Jason, is suddenly killed and protective services intervenes sending him to live with foster parents. In a desperate attempt to contact his brother, Marcus turns to psychics, spirit guides and other fake mystics before finding information about a real medium on the Internet.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, George Lonegan (a restrained, understated performance by Matt Damon) struggles with his ability to communicate with the dead. He thinks his gift is a curse. Unable to cope with the fame and money it once brought, he left it all behind, preferring to live a life of anonymity, working as a fork lift operator by day. At night, as a fan of Charles Dickens, George spends time alone listening to audio recordings of his novels before going to sleep.

After starting off strong with that jaw dropping opening sequence, Eastwood moves the three storylines along at a slow, measured pace to the point that may be a turn off for some. The film could have been cut by about 15 minutes. For example, the long and overly drawn out cooking class scene involving a taste test between blindfolded yet flirtatious Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard) and George could very well be deleted since it was entirely unnecessary. I couldn’t wait for the scene to be over as it was already established that the single, pretty young woman was George’s potential love interest.

Other than that excruciating scene, I found myself immersed in the plight of the key characters. This is a contemplative, absorbing film that demands worthy patience from the viewer as the story gradually unfolds. It doesn’t propose to have answers and I personally think it was a brave undertaking not to include God in the scenario, although those of the religious right will probably disagree.

This isn’t Eastwood’s best movie, but it is his most thoughtful. Hereafter is a moving, pensive and effective film, with wonderful performances from the leading actors. Personally speaking and for others who can relate to the metaphysical aspects of the story and its characters, the film should hit a chord. I know from experience.