Hereafter

October 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Matt Damon, Ceclie de France, Bryce Dallas Howard
Directed by: Clint Eastwood (“Invictus”)
Written by: Peter Morgan (“Frost/Nixon”)

Filmmaker Clint Eastwood (“Unforgiven”) has such a gentle way of telling a story, even when the narrative experiments with darker themes Eastwood rarely strays from his comfort zone. But in his new film “Hereafter,” the two-time Academy Award-winning director shows he can’t always create affecting scenes through subtle storytelling. Beneath its restrained tone, the supernatural drama actually becomes lethargic.

In “Hereafter,” Oscar-winning screenwriter Peter Morgan (“The Queen”) collaborates with Eastwood to tell the story of George, a former psychic who can communicate with the dead but no longer practices because of the emotional toll it has taken on his life.

“It’s not a gift, it’s a curse,” George repeats as if he were some kind of comic book superhero questioning his newfound abilities to spin webs or become hulky and green when he gets angry.

George is drawn back into his work as a psychic when he meets a French TV reporter (Ceclie de France) whose near-death experience in a tsunami has changed her overall outlook on things. George is also moved by a young British schoolboy who is persistent about contacting his twin brother in the afterlife. The question on everyone’s mind: what happens after we die?

It’s a familiar theme we’ve all seen before on the big screen, but the way Eastwood confronts it is unoriginal and hokey. The same grim style Eastwood used in past films like “Gran Torino” and “Million Dollar Baby” has become his calling card, but without providing a true connection to the characters involved, we’re left with profound questions lingering in a screenplay that merely skims the surface.

What we know midway through “Hereafter” is that these separate stories will intersect and somehow make a type of philosophical statement about life and death. Nothing, however, comes as close to being as powerful as the impressive computer-generated tsunami that hits a village in the film’s opening scene. You know you’re in trouble when the best parts of an Eastwood movie are the special effects.