3 1/2 STARS
Rated PG-13 2hrs. 9 min.
The creative minds of Clint Eastwood and Peter Morgan are combined in a new drama focusing on the afterlife starring Matt Damon. Hereafter is a story of three different people each with completely different backgrounds all affected by the phenomenon of death. The question that everyone wants to know the answer to: “what happens when we die?” is the basis of the story, but Morgan’s screenplay refrains from preaching any sort of religious explanation.
The screenplay is excellent, and the three way story flows very well, so that the viewer won’t get lost in the different events changing each individual’s life. A very interesting plot keeps itself level and not over dramatic or cliché, except for the very end. A minor flaw is that perhaps we could have a little bit of background or “special” look at what the afterlife looks like from the perspective of these talented minds. The “hereafter” is simply explained or vividly shown as a place you go after death, but you don’t necessarily stay there; you move on. Hence, no Christian, Muslim, Buddhists or any other religious interpretations are suggested. The story is slow moving at points, and when there is little time left in the film, you wonder how Eastwood could possibly wrap it all up (The story is wrapped up, in a slightly odd, yet satisfying conclusion).
The cast is great, possibly a tad bland at times, mostly on Matt Damon’s (as a blue-collar American psychic) part. Cecile de France (as a reporter with a near death experience) and Frankie McLaren (an English boy with a troublesome family life full of sadness) nailed their parts excellently with great emotion matching their character’s (confident for France and stoic for McLaren) personality. Bryce Dallas Howard also appears in a few scenes as a curious newfound friend of George (Damon). Her performance is near-perfect.
Flawless use of lighting for the psychic reading scenes lend to Hereafter’s excellent cinematography. Tom Stern (ASC) uses light/dark camera angles to hide George’s face partially in shadows as he performs the readings. The opening scene (the 2004 tsunami) is done flawlessly as well, with breathtaking visual effects and sound editing, providing for intensity; truly the most intense scene of the film, and one of the best openings ever.
The score composed by Clint Eastwood himself (which he has done for several of his movies including Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby and Changeling), is done pretty much the same way as his others: harmonious piano solos and calm, gentle music.
In conclusion, Hereafter is a sci-fi drama that leaves the audience to its own opinion on the beliefs stated, but is great as a film. An appealing story (with unfortunately slow buildups), with good acting, and skillful cinematography make this film a must see.
George (Matt Damon) reluctantly performs a psychic reading on Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard)