Sure, Invictus was just okay, but it seems to me old Clint Eastwood can do no wrong these days. There is a quiet confidence in his approach, a lovely subtlety in his pacing and pauses. And no matter what, he manages to evoke powerful, genuine emotional responses from his audiences (I mean, come on — Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Letters from Iwo Jima, Changeling, Gran Torino…).
Eastwood’s latest effort, Hereafter, is no different. It’s a dangerous project because, as the title suggests, the film is about death and what comes after, which makes it prone to soppy melodrama and manipulation. And of course, the afterlife is a topic often subject to ridicule and parody, so there’s the additional hurdle of keeping the film serious without tipping it over the edge.
Somehow, some way, Eastwood delivers. Pound-for-pound, Hereafter is perhaps not one of Eastwood’s greatest films, but it’s certainly one of his better ones — and it holds great potential to be one of his most popular films.
It tells three separate stories about three different characters — Marie (Cecile de France), a well-known French television journalist; George (Matt Damon), an American factory worker who just gave up on his old job; and Marcus (Frankie McLaren), a British boy with an older twin brother and a crackhead mother. I won’t say much more than that except that each of their lives is touched by death and what lies beyond.
Perhaps it’s just my fascination with the film’s themes and/or my appreciation for Eastwood’s direction, but I was totally engrossed by Hereafter from start to finish. Sceptics might have a natural bias against the film because it lays quite a lot out on the table (similar to say atheists towards The Passion of the Christ or fundamentalist Christians towards The Da Vinci Code — even though it’s fiction), but those who keep an open mind will find it hard not to be moved by at least one of the three stories in the film. It’s a shame that many people will simply scoff at this film because of its subject matter and try to discredit it on other grounds. I’m just glad religion played an almost non-existent role in all of this.
Anyway, I loved it. Eastwood butchered the ending in my opinion with a pointless sequence but apart from that I found it beautiful, absorbing, poignant, and ultimately very satisfying.
4.5 stars out of 5