Hereafter: A Beautiful Story About Life & Death…But Then What?

22 10 2010

I was surprised to find out Hereafter was opening this weekend. The lack of promotion for this film is shocking, especially considering the caliber of talent involved; I mean, Matt Damon starring in a Clint Eastwood film? Hardly any marketing? Hmmm. But, in any event, here’s the breakdown:

Three stories, dealing with death and what happens after: George Lonegan, an ex-psychic who sees his gift as more of a curse; Marie LeLay, a famous French news anchor who experiences a near-death experience in a harrowing disaster; and English twins Marcus and Jason, young boys who must rely on each other for comfort. These stories weave together, telling a story about life, death, and the hereafter.

The Monkey: Clint Eastwood’s directing skills never cease to amaze me (not to mention his ability to write wonderful movie music). His presence in the film is unmistakable, yet he manages to avoid heavy-handedness. He allows his actors to flow from scene to scene, something Matt Damon does very well. Cecile De France, as Marie LeLay, was thoroughly enjoyable and completely convincing as the troubled soul-searcher. And young actors Frankie and George McLaren delivered heart-rending performances as the inseparable brothers who must face tragedy together and apart; their story, even more so than the other two, delivered the truest and most touching emotional resonances.

The opening sequence of the film was jaw-dropping. Without revealing too much, let me just say you’ve never seen something like this on-screen.

The Weasel: Unfortunately, the movie never really matches the level of energy and visual stimulation that the opening sequence promises. Hereafter was, more than any other movie I’ve seen, a book – its scenes felt so much like chapters in a book, I half expected to see chapter headings before each scene change. I debated about whether this was a positive or negative element of the film – at the very least, it’s unique; however, I have to say it didn’t do the movie any favors. Books are books for a reason, and what works on paper, doesn’t necessarily translate successfully on-screen. In addition, this episodic set-up made the film feel twice as long as it really was.

While the other actors were excellent, Bryce Dallas Howard, who played a possible love interest for Damon’s character, was surprisingly grating and unlikable. I wish she would have toned it down a bit.

Ultimately, what left Hereafter wanting was the resolution…or lack thereof. The three plot lines, while intriguing, came together all too suddenly, and rather unbelievably. And the audience is never really sure what they should take away. We all need closure? The world isn’t ready to know what’s after death? We should live our lives for the here and now? All of the above? I’m all for a movie that forces you to draw your own conclusions, but the footpaths must be laid…in this case, you’re left unsure which direction to take, or if there is any direction at all.

Amazing performances coupled with an amazing director, Hereafter has the right ingredients for a truly emotional, thoughtful movie-going experience, but lacks the narrative structure to successfully guide an audience through the story.

3 Death Stars out of 5

What do you think? Did Hereafter’s narrative feel better suited for a book? Did you like the way the stories tied together? How about that opening scene?! Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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4 responses

23 10 2010
Afterthoughts on Hereafter « Scarletsp1der's Blog

[…] out so much like reading a book: chapter by chapter. Almost to its detriment, in his opinion. Click here to see his review! I agree with it playing out as a novel, but the way it moved back and forth […]

23 10 2010
Afterthoughts on Hereafter « Scarletsp1der's Blog

[…] out so much like reading a book: chapter by chapter. Almost to its detriment, in his opinion. Click here to see his review! I agree with it playing out as a novel, but the way it moved back and forth […]

23 10 2010
scarletsp1der

NIce post Dustin! You’re honorably mentioned here…http://scarletsp1der.wordpress.com/2010/10/23/afterthoughts-on-hereafter/ Had to toss in a quote or two from ya! Thanks!

1 04 2012
Hereafter, Conviction & Paranormal Activity 2 movie reviews – Nerdvana | Yafata.com

[…] News Hereafter weaves three stories together: Matt Damon plays an ex-psyhic trying to avoid his “gift”; Cecil De France plays a famous French news anchor struggling with questions of life and death after a near-death experience; twins George and Frankie McLaren play young brothers who must rely on each other to weather life’s tragedies. Clint Eastwood directs this movie expertly, yet the film never manages to deliver a satisfying conclusion. What are we supposed to take away from this story? Great performances and an epic opening sequence can’t make up for the film’s plodding pace and unresolved ending. Read the full review here. […]

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