Re:View – ‘Hereafter’
It’s an intriguing combination; Clint Eastwood directing a Peter Morgan script about the metaphysics of mortality, in a ‘Babel’-style structure, starring Matt Damon, who always makes interesting choices. It doesn’t quite work, but I always prefer noble failures to surefire hits.
The trio of stories feature a psychic (Damon) damaged by the revelations he brings people (think Hilary Mantel’s ‘Beyond Black’), a French journalist who nearly dies in a Tsunami, and a London boy who loses his twin in a terrorist attack. In the final scenes, as you would expect, this trio are united in rather contrived plotting.
The upside – Damon’s moving psychic, the astonishing tsunami in the opening minutes that seems to promise another film altogether, an admirable lack of sentiment, the French segment that shows the prejudice of thinking differently in the media world.
The downside – the dreary London segment, all muted greys, downtrodden kids and social services while Paris gets the twinkly Eiffel Tower and lovely restaurants. More problematic is the idea of the afterlife at all, represented here like ‘Close Encounters’, the usual cliche of people wandering in bright fog. The film isn’t tough enough on its subject so there’s no doubting Damon’s powers – it would have been sharper if we could have harboured suspicions about him.
But cinema rarely tackles this kind of material without going into slo-mo montages, and Eastwood’s dry direction is welcome. Ultimately it’s more about fate than the hereafter, which would almost make it a companion piece to ‘Franklyn’.