Re:View – ‘Hereafter’

The Arts

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’.

2 comments on “Re:View – ‘Hereafter’”

  1. FabienneT says:

    I loved Franklyn, but noone seems to have seen it. Even though there were posters everywhere on the Tube, I think it was shown in 2 cinemas in the country (in London) and that was it. It’s a shame. I wonder whether it had been sidelined because of its criticism of religion(s).I found the aesthetics of the film stunning, especially the “fantasy” sections and the artist’s apartment.

  2. Anne Gallant says:

    Having just spent a year taking care of my slowly dying father, seeing “Hereafter” really affected me, because it deals with the connection of the dead and dying to the living. Like the french journalist in the film, I discovered that no one wants to acknowledge the altered state in which you find yourself after you have been intimate with dying (not quite the same as being intimate with death). Remember in one of the Harry Potter books that the children always arrive at Hogwarts pulled by horseless carriages–or so Harry thinks? After he experiences first hand the death of a friend, he can see that the carriages are in fact pulled by beautiful black horses, and realizes that only people that have seen death first hand can see the horses. (I think it’s black horses–it might be black dragons). Anyway, the point is that I felt very grateful to Clint for addressing this hugely significant aspect of living–knowing dying–AND addressing the fact that our culture wants to keep the experience as sterile as possible. Made me go on a mini Clint Eastwood jag, re-watching Gran Torrino and everything except the Dirty Harrys (yuck).

Comments are closed.