Hereafter Directed by: Clint Eastwood Cast: Matt Damon, Cécile De France, Frankie McLaren, George McLaren, Jay Mohr, Bryce Dallas Howard Running Time: 2 hrs 9 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: November 5, 2010
PLOT: It's the story of a psychic (Damon), a woman (De France) who experiences near death, and twins (Frankie and George McLaren) who go through a life and death moment.
WHO'S IT FOR? Are you already a believer in what is beyond this life? Do psychics play a role in your beliefs? I think it will help in this otherwise slow moving drama.
EXPECTATIONS: Believe. You must believe. Those thoughts are just about all I took from approximately nine seconds of the trailer that I watched. I love Matt Damon. Eastwood's directing hasn't done it for me lately. In fact, Invictus is one of Damon's worst of his career. I have my guard up with Hereafter.
Matt Damon as George Lonegan: Damon is one-third of the film. You need to know this going into it otherwise you'll be shocked with the long absences. He's definitely the best part of the movie. George is a psychic who doesn't want the burden of his powers so he leaves it all behind to work in a factory. It's mundane work, but so it most of Hereafter. George's brother (Jay Mohr) and others in his life try to get him back on the psychic train, complete with a website to sell his talents. Damon does have charm. It's in moments here, including the best scene (see below). When he leaves the movie, you'll be disappointed and when he returns you'll be overjoyed. This is like saying Novocaine is the best part of going to the dentist. Score: 7
Cécile De France as Marie LeLay: When she's running for her life, this character is at her best. It only happens in the beginning. Marie is swept up in a tsunami and almost dies. De France isn't a household name in the states and with this role, I don't see it happening. We have to watch her pitch potential book deals about Francois Mitterrand. There is no meat about that politician, it's so light it's not worth it. Also not worth it are the basic conversations about what is on the other side. Not that this is a deal breaker, she mainly speaks French. Score: 3
Frankie McLaren and George McLaren as Marcus and Jason: From all accounts, the boys play both roles. They are the leading sulkers of the year. Look, I know they have something to be terribly sad about. Losing someone close like that has to destroy a person inside. I don't understand Marcus' quest after the tragedy. He's looking for answers. It seems he tries religion for a second. After that he realizes many psychics are full of crap. Yet he's desperately exited about George. Why? Because. With all of this in their journey, there is nothing exciting that happens with these twins. Score: 3
TALKING: There's not enough. If you're trying to make a movie about belief, then you'll have to try and convince. With Hererafter, the convincing is already done for you. George talks about his troubles in super obvious lines like, "It's not a gift, it's a burden." Plus, considering Marie is a reporter, you'd think we'd get more of a story of the potential cover-up of what's after death. Score: 3
SIGHTS: The tsunami isn't perfect special effects, but it's very effective. There is even a "gotcha" moment where I let out a gasp. For the rest of the film, you know how if you imagine London, it's grey? Well, so is this entire film. And it seems the afterlife is dark, light and our souls pretty much look like we did as humans. Yeah, not that interesting. Score: 4
SOUNDS: I don't need to look it up to assume Eastwood once again did the musical score for his own film. It's mainly slow piano which doesn't add to the situations, but makes them feel even longer. Score: 4
BEST SCENE: Remember how I said Damon is charming? Well, he takes a cooking class and Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard) quickly becomes a love interest. It's full of nice little moments, but it got me thinking, Damon doesn't do romance. Seriously. What's the last one? Does Rounders count? The Legend of Bagger Vance? Damon should use his charm to woo a woman in an upcoming film.
ENDING: Early on, you realize there needs to be something that ties these three separate stories together. Well, the ending doesn't pack a punch. Sure, it's a little more enjoyable than the last hour you just watched, but it's really nothing extraordinary.
QUESTIONS: I was hoping for more. I even wrote down Room #321 when it was mentioned in the film because maybe everything had a purpose. It doesn't. Marie is a reporter ... where's the story? We only hear a little of her book reading, so I have no idea why I should be excited about any of this. Also, what happens if Damon touches someone three times? Does the sensation go away and he can just lead a normal life?
REWATCHABILITY: If someone cuts together only Damon's scenes, I'll watch that 40 minute movie. Otherwise this is definitely a one and done.
Hereafter treats the subject as a fact. George is a psychic. There is no possibility to believe, it's just told to us. There is no doubting it. This film is not about belief. With no room to question it, we are left with a very slow story about a psychic, a woman, and twins. The script, actors and director only bring one of these three stories to life and it's Damon's. Feeling sorry for a psychic isn't something we've had from a character before. Unfortunately we spend a little too much time doing that, and not understanding exactly how his gift helps. He's not a fraud, but he seems to serve the same purpose as one. At one point the reporter Marie shouts out, "The evidence is irrefutable." Well, that doesn't help us join in, especially since there is such a lack of emotion. Everyone is either gloomy or attempting to compose their emotions.
If this is anything like the actual hereafter, I fear I'll just keep dying of boredom.
FINAL SCORE: 4/10