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.