The sparkling Cécile De France stars as a French journalist who suffers a (amazingly shot) near death experience and is forced to go on living dealing with the visions of the dead she witnessed. Next we meet a young boy who has lost the closest loved one he's been afforded in his short life. Finally, Matt Damon's portrays a conflicted psychic with more answers than most, but yet, more questions than anymore, and the character brings the film full circle.
The marketing for Hereafter would have you believe it's a supernatural thriller inspired by M. Night Shyamalan and starring Mr. Damon. That's misleading, though. Hereafter may deal with life after death, and connections to those lost, but it's anchored tightly in realism. This is a human tale, a character study in which one of the characters is in possession of an irrational gift. The story here is much more about the quest for the answers regarding life's end, and less about a fictional explanation of the afterlife where the curtain is eased back to reveal all.
De France's screen presence is mesmerizing, her character's arc brings forth the heart to tie the three stories as one. Matt Damon should be cited here for a wonderful performance as well, his subdued style of acting fitting for one resigned to be living with what he considers a curse, trying his best to stay in the shadows.
[image-2] Clint Eastwood direction will likely garner attention when Oscar votes are being tallied, as Hereafter is one of his finest-looking movies. The film scatters its stories around the globe, and though at times one character's tale may get back-burnered for another, the audience rarely loses touch. Performances all around are mostly superb and heart wrenching, including Bryce Dallas Howard (a Shyamalan vet herself) in an extended cameo as a possible love interest for Damon. The actress splits her time acting as both a bobble head doll and a deeply tormented soul. Somehow, it still works for her.
Could it be that this is all there is? Clint Eastwood's Hereafter is captivating and emotional, a film about life more than death. It wastes no time attempting to be horrific, or a thriller for the emotions. No, Hereafter is grounded in reality, a story of those trying to figure it all out. And though it might seem to run a tad long, it is a wonderful affair with fine performances worth following through with. Let the Oscar buzz begin...
The business of death is rich in both profits and emotion. Where do we go when we pass from the land of the living? Worse yet, who is going to pay for your last affair on mortal soil (the funeral) and who will purchase your headstone? One wishes there were easy answers to these questions that bother us so, especially considering how much of our lives are spent concerned with death. Clint Eastwood's Hereafter is brimming with both the reality of dying and the living with little clue of death's bitter mystery.
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