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A 2010 movie directed by Clint Eastwood.

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Good performances in the service of a plot that doesn't pay off

  • Oct 30, 2010
  • by
HEREAFTER is an engrossing but frustrating film. My interest was held throughout, yet when it was all over, I was extremely disappointed in how little my interest added up to.

Directed by Clint Eastwood, HEREAFTER would appear to be exploring the old question "what happens to us after we die," but really it is a character study of a couple of folks who have very atypical experiences with death. Ultimately, it isn't terribly meaningful because it is NOT universal.

The film starts out with a bang. We meet Marie (Cecile de France), a TV journalist on vacation in Thailand with her producer boyfriend. She heads out of the hotel to do some last minute shopping, and in minutes, finds herself facing the tsunami that so famously devastated that region of the world some years ago. Eastwood is not known for spending big bucks on special effects, but these scenes are fairly effective in their depiction of the awesome destructive force of the killer wave (when we see the wave gathering strength by sucking in all the water from the beach…that is pretty scary). Marie drowns in the water, and feels herself headed towards a light where shadowy figures beckon to her. She is brought back to our world, though…but she has been deeply changed by her experience.

We then meet George (Matt Damon), a very shy man living along and working on a loading dock. He seems unusually withdrawn from the world. We discover early on that he is a psychic (apparently the real deal) with an ability to see beyond the grave and communicate with the dearly departed to send messages to their loved ones. His ability is a compelling temptation for all who encounter him ("read me!!"), but the intimate knowledge he gathers from virtual strangers also alienates him from those folks. His slimy brother (Jay Mohr) essentially tells him to capitalize on his abilities ("with great power comes great responsibility") but for George, he is cursed, not gifted.

The third leg of the story is about young British twins Marcus & Jason (played by twins Frankie & George McLaren). Jason, the stronger and more outgoing brother, is killed, and poor Marcus is sent to a foster home to stew not only about the separation from his drug-addicted mother but about his loss. The 12-year-old is adrift…compelled to find some way to reach out to his brother again.

All three of these characters carry a sadness with them. Marcus is obviously saddled with grief, and Damon with loneliness…but it is Marie who is perhaps the most tormented. She was on top of the world…a celebrity journalist who was also a model. The world at her feet. Yet her near-death experience leaves her feeling separate from everyone. She wants to research her experiences and write about them. Everyone else just urges her to be quiet about it and take some time off from work. As her career passes her by, she becomes more convinced that her experience was a revelation.

It seems unlikely that these 3 characters would ever meet…but the plot has other contrivances in mind. I didn't mind…I expected the ultimate meeting of these three to come and for something of import or relevance to happen. I was left disappointed.

But the film is interesting in large part because the three leads give outstanding performances that are well worth checking out. McLaren does a nice job of showing the particular kind of grief a child feels. DeFrance (previously only known to me from her fierce performance in HIGH TENSION) is a striking performer, and makes her character tough but damaged. And Damon gives another nice performance, underplaying admirably (although occasionally coming across just a little like his character in GOOD WILL HUNTING). Here is another actor who seems to give nuanced work under the direction of Eastwood.

Another thing that bothered me was the feeling that the entire Tsunami scene existed only to create some really cool previews, so that folks would be more likely to come to the movie. There is no real reason that Marie needed to have her experience in that famous, true-life tragedy. She could have drowned in a swimming pool in Milwaukee and had the same shattering, personal experience. Certainly the scenes are dramatically staged…but they are utterly out of character with the rest of the movie.

HEREAFTER promises much but delivers little, beyond some really nice performances. For me, that is just enough to recommend it to audiences who understand they are about to see a quiet, slow-paced movie; not some kind of supernatural thriller as the previews hint at. I just wished that all the hard work had added up to more.

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More Hereafter (2010 movie) reviews
review by . October 21, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
3 ½ Stars: A Supernatural Drama About The Living And The Dead
I’ve always proclaimed that I have a fondness for movies directed by Clint Eastwood and I believe I've seen every movie directed by him. I like the way he develops his story and how he keeps a sense of simplicity when he frames his shots. Eastwood always goes for the first draft of any story; he went for the purity of Paul Higgins’ first story draft in “Million Dollar Baby” and I’ve read the same about the script of “Gran Torino” among his other …
review by . October 23, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Screenwriter Blake Snyder talks about delivering on the "promise of the premise" in the story concept, and delivering the "fun and games" associated with a winning idea. A movie like Home Alone - about the kid left to defend his house from burglars while the family's away - is a great example of this. Hereafter is supposedly about the only genuine psychic in the world - wow, what a great concept - but it never fully capitalizes on the idea.      The other …
review by . December 27, 2011
  There are essentially three very moving tales in this excellent film. Viewers hoping to learn about what happens to people after death, whether there is something or nothing, will be disappointed, because this is not the film's purpose. The hereafter is a backdrop to the three tales that Clint Eastwood directs and Matt Damon acts in very well.     One story is about the character played by Damon. He discovers that he has the ability to see and hear a dead relative …
review by . March 02, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
What is after death? Wrong question!
Hereafter is a movie I saw right after Sunset Limited. Both deal with death and human’s survival in the world. Hereafter is a movie that attempts to answer the question about life after death although its focus is on those who survived and their attachment to close people who had passed on.         Matt Damon is the psychic who gets his vibes from people through the sense of touch. He “hears” what the dead had to say to those who are seeking them. …
review by . October 26, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Let's see this is my first review, so here goes.       Clint Eastwood -- high expectations, I think too high.   The opening scenes were heart pounding.  Man versus nature, no contest.  Visually I found the moving appealing.  But there  was a calmness/flatness that settled in after the Tsunami scene like the roller coaster ride was over, and it was.  I found myself getting exasperated with the plodding movement of the story.  Started …
review by . May 01, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****     "Hereafter" is being marketed as some sort of "Sixth Sense"-esque paranormal drama, although I assure you, it is far from one of those. It's a different venue for director Clint Eastwood, who is talented and skillful, and has made a film that matches the quality of the mass majority of his productions. This isn't a masterpiece, and it's not the best Eastwood directorial feature, but "Hereafter" is worth seeing in its own little ways, for its own little reasons.  &nb …
review by . October 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Many of us have a terrible tendency to pigeonhole filmmakers into the genres we think they're best suited for. When I first saw the trailer for "Hereafter," I, like much of the moviegoing public, was unpleasantly surprised at the thought of Clint Eastwood having directed a supernatural drama. Given his recent triumphs with films like "Mystic River," "Million Dollar Baby," "Changeling," "Gran Torino," and "Invictus," it just didn't …
review by . October 23, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Clint's Near Death Experiment
HEREAFTER   Written by Peter Morgan   Directed by Clint Eastwood   Starring Matt Damon, Cecile de France, Bryce Dallas Howard and George McLaren       Billy: A life that is all about death is no life at all.       It’s no secret that Clint Eastwood is getting up there in years.  He has been churning out films on an almost yearly basis in the last decade as if he is trying to cram as much work as possible into …
Quick Tip by . April 13, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
While I liked the story and the themes being dealt with in Hereafter, I couldn't help but feel somewhat disappointed with the screenplay which feels somewhat exploitative in the way it utilizes contemporary events such as the London subway terrorist bombings and the 2004 tsunami as well as the concept of mediums. I couldn't help but feel that I was watching a film that much like the spiritualist revival movement after WWI wanted to instill its viewers with hope and a belief in the afterlife, …
Quick Tip by . November 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I did like this movie, not because it was such an amazing story but it was more the visual experience and the way the different story lines all connected at the end. It will not change your mind about your beliefs of the afterlife or lack of it, but was enjoyable and thought provoking.
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I've got my own site, www.afilmcritic.com, on which I'm posting my reviews. I am 46 years old, married 25 years, two kids (23 & 18) and currently work in accounting/finance. I spent 15 years … more
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About this movie


  • Opened October 15, 2010 (Limited NY-LA-Toronto 10/15; Opens Wide 10/22) | Runtime:2 hr. 6 min.
  • PG-13
    Mature thematic elements including disturbing disaster and accident images, and for brief strong language
  • An American laborer (Matt Damon), a French journalist (Cécile de France) and a London schoolboy set out on a spiritual journey after death touches their lives in different ways.
  • Cast: Matt Damon, Cécile De France, Daniel McLaren, Jay Mohr, Bryce Dallas Howard
  • Director: Clint Eastwood
  • Genres: DramaSupernatural Drama
  • Poster art for "Hereafter"
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    Director: Clint Eastwood
    Genre: Drama
    Release Date: October 20, 2010 limited
    MPAA Rating: PG-13
    Screen Writer: Peter Morgan
    Runtime: 129 minutes
    Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
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