22 mar. 2011

My Review: Hereafter (6/10)

¨If you are afraid about being on your own, don`t be. You are not.¨

I´m a huge Clint Eastwood fan, but I have to admit that Hereafter is one of his weakest efforts. I expected a lot more from this movie which had Matt Damon teaming up again with him after Invictus, and it also had one of the best screenwriters working on the project. Peter Morgan has written screenplays for such great films as The Damned United, Frost/Nixon, The Queen, and The Last King of Scotland. Hereafter will definitely not rank among Eastwood, Damon, or Morgan`s best work. They are all very talented at what they do, but sometimes things don`t work out the way we expect them too. The movie begins with a lot of promise, but then it seems to drift all the way to the anticlimactic ending. Eastwood does take huge risks as a director, but this time it just didn`t work out for him like in his other projects. Hereafter tells three different stories about three characters that in some way or another have to deal with death. It`s not a bad film, I enjoyed Hereafter, especially the first half of the film, but I just hoped the three stories would have tied a little nicer than they actually did. The film lacked a climactic ending, and the most important scene actually takes place in the opening five minutes. This is my least favorite Eastwood film of the last ten years, and he has made plenty of them (Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Iwo Jima, Flags of Our Fathers, Changeling, Gran Torino, and Invictus). I still think Eastwood, who is now 80 years old, is one of the brightest and finest directors in Hollywood so all his films are worth checking out. He tries to leave an important underlying message in all of his films, and in Hereafter he tells us that there is more to life after death.

The movie opens with a French journalist named Marie Lelay (played by Cecile de France known for her role in the French horror film High Tension) who is on vacations in the eastern shores of Asia along with her boyfriend and producer Didier (Thierry Neuvic). While Marie is out on the streets buying some gifts for Didier`s boys a tsunami takes place destroying everything on its path. Marie is swept away by the wave only to be resurrected by some local fishermen. During the incident Marie experiences some sort of afterlife, but she can`t explain it very well. She decides to take some time off from her job and begin writing about her experience. The film then jumps to San Francisco where we are introduced to George (Matt Damon), a factory worker who used to work as a psychic. He is a true psychic who can communicate with the dead, but for him it is a curse unlike what his brother Billy (Jay Mohr) thinks that it`s a gift. Billy wants George to become a psychic again because he is really good at it, but George wants to stay away from that life because he has learned death isn`t fun to be around with. He spends his free time taking cooking lessons where he meets Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard) and an interesting friendship develops although his psychic abilities might get in the way. The third parallel story takes place in London and it centers around Marcus and Jason (Frankie and George McLaren), twins who have to take care of their alcoholic and drug addict mother. One day Jason suffers an accident and dies leaving Marcus on his own desperately trying to find a way to communicate with him. The three stories continue to develop until they overlap with each other.

Hereafter is a strong drama that really begins with a lot of promise, but as the movie continues to develop it starts to drag and the final connection between the three stories isn`t as strong to make the wait worth your while. The best part of the film is the opening scene with the tsunami. I liked the visuals, and the scene felt very real (especially after experiencing the recent tsunami in Japan and seeing all those real life images). Eastwood definitely hooks our attention with that opening, but then he loses us by the time we get to the final act because there is no climax. There is a lot to learn about life after death and this movie tries to explore it, but it doesn`t get to delve in too deep. The movie barely touches the surface of it and it focuses more on the drama and loneliness that each character goes through. By the end you feel like something was missing and that it could have had a more powerful ending considering the subject matter. When it comes to movies about death, I personally prefer films like Meet Joe Black, but I still don’t think Hereafter was as bad as many people considered it to be. It still works as a character driven drama and both Damon and De France give some strong performances. Eastwood still knows how to make good films, this one just isn`t up to par with the rest of his movies.

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