Hereafter is the latest film from director Clint Eastwood. Eastwood again finds himself working with Matt Damon who did 2009’s Invictus together. That is the only similarity between the films. Invictus told the true story of the South African Rugby team under Nelson Mandela whereas Hereafter is a multilayered story of three individuals touched by death and tragedy.
Damon plays George, a psychic in San Francisco who can communicate to the dead ala John Edward. George believes his abilities are a curse and walks away from a lucrative career as a medium to become a warehouse worker.
The film opens with Marie (Cécile De France) on vacation with her boss and boyfriend Didier (Thierry Neuvic) when a tsunami hits dragging Marie through the streets and practically killing her. She awakens after seeing images which she doesn’t understand, but continues her career as a French reporter.
Which brings us to England and twin brothers Marcus and Jason played by George and Frankie McLaren. Marcus and Jason are the sons of a heroin junkie and the boys fend for themselves. On an errand for his mum, Jason gets into a fight with some boys and is killed in an accident. Marcus is placed in social services while his mother tries to get clean.
This is where the layering tries to blend. Marie tries to figure out what her images mean and starts writing a book on life after death. Marcus so dearly wants his brother back in his life, he starts to look into psychic mediums. And George, well he takes a cooking class and meets Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard). After finding out about George’s gift, Melanie walks away never to be seen again.
The film continues till all 3 characters are in one spot as fate brings them together to give them all peace and happiness. But something just doesn’t sit right. It feels like the movie just isn’t what its advertised to be. To be honest, Matt Damon almost comes across as useless in the film. His storyline really doesn’t seem necessary. Marcus and Marie could have met with Marcus getting his closure from her and her finding happiness in knowing what her images meant. She wasn’t exactly a medium, but it could have been written that way without having George at all in the film. Damon seems advertised as the star of film, but he almost seems third banana. His love interest with Melanie serves one point, to show how tough it is for him to feel normal around others, but its really just filler.
Other films seemed to have a lot easier of time blending arching storylines (see Traffic and Crash) and the film is shot beautifully, but it all seems rushed. Almost like after working together on Invictus, Eastwood and Damon seemed to ask, hey have time for another? Damon has a well rounded resume under his belt and no one says no to Clint, but Matt seems very underused. Hereafter just doesn’t come across as a Matt Damon movie and its not just about screen time.
Hereafter does have some great smaller performances especially from Jay Mohr as George’s brother, Richard Kind, and from Steve Schirripa as the cooking instructor. And overall there is some very well done acting, but after great films like Mystic River and Gran Torino, Hereafter almost seems a let down. Very well made, it is far from a bad movie just maybe not what’s expected.
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