“Hereafter” Review

 Guest Reviewer
 Andy Walsh
  Production Value: 9.5
 Entertainment Value: 8
 Overall Value: 8.75
I’ve got two quick things to say before I start this:1. Do people seriously not understand that it is rude to talk during a movie? There are entire ad campaigns that blankly tell people in and outside of theaters that it is very rude to talk during a movie. Now, I can understand that there are certain circumstances where you will have to do so (particularly emergencies) but if you’re just commenting on the movie at hand, seriously, shut up. It’s not simply rude because it can interfere with someone’s experience of the film that so many people worked hard to put up on screen in front of you, it’s that everyone in that theater paid for the service of being shown a film. Imagine trying to change your ticket to a different flight at the airport but someone behind keeps interrupting you to complain about security. Talking will ruin any movie, but it’s worst when watching films like this.2. Clint Eastwood is my HERO! Seriously, I don’t think there has ever been a more talented person to ever work within Hollywood. He’s a terrific actor, a phenomenal director, a great producer, and a fantastic composer. The man is one of the few jack-of-all-trades within the industry who can pull that all off equally well. And the man will work on more films every year than most directors half his age, and not simply because he has the influence to get those movies made. He’s also one of few directors who is clearly determined to bring diversity to films regarding culture, race, and religion.

Hereafter is his latest film. It tells three different stories revolving around the concept of death. The first story follows Greg (Damon) a factory worker who used to work as a psychic to help people with the passing of loved ones. The second follows Marie (Cecile de France) a French television journalist who becomes fascinated with the afterlife after a nearly dyeing in a tsunami. The final story follows a young boy Marcus (Frankie/George McLaren) who searches for closure after his twin brother is killed in a car accident.

The film opens with a spectacular disaster scene: the tsunami in Thailand. The special effects for this scene are fantastic, but not so much that they steal the show. It’s also genuinely exhilarating but never over the top and is truly terrifying. With this opening scene, I honestly think Eastwood just beat Roland Emmerich at his own game.

The acting is for the most part pretty well rounded. Matt Damon gives a terrific performance, but for me Cecile de France steals the show. The young twins are apparently new to acting altogether and, unfortunately, it shows. This may be a little harsh, but their faces didn’t seem to budge to show emotion for the entire film. In spite of this, they say their lines with real emotion, so it all ultimately balances out.

Eastwood said while promoting the movie that this is his “French Film.” While I can’t say for certain that Hereafter has a French feel to it, it certainly does feel European. Nearly every aesthetic aspect of the film feels foreign: the characters, the story, the lighting, the pacing, the cinematography, the sound, etc. If it weren’t for the fact that Matt Damon was starring and Clint Eastwood directing I’d have completely believed that it was a foreign market film.

Also of note is how the film handles the supernatural gift of Damon’s character. While its explanation is sort of breezed right through, it makes you realize that the explanation isn’t important in the slightest. The film goes out of its way to criticize mediums, ESP enthusiasts, and other faux “speaking with the dead” people who make a living off of the emotional trauma of others, while Damon’s character is haunted by his very real “gift.” When Damon’s character does a reading it’s incredibly emotional for everyone involved. He does it three times in the film, and the results are different each time: one person is amazed (even “entertained” so to speak), one person receives actual closure, and the other is completely and utterly devastated. The film treats these supernatural concepts very seriously.

This isn’t Eastwood’s strongest film in almost any aspect, but it’s certainly a good story well told. Eastwood is the only director who seems to truly know how to treat and show death in film. When Hilary Swank died in Million Dollar Baby, it didn’t feel like an actor just played a death scene, it really made me feel that she died. Hereafter comes close to recreating this feeling, but also expands upon the concept and idea of death and afterlife itself. There are a few twists and turns, as well as a surprise jump scare that NO ONE will see coming. I certainly recommend it.


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