Directed by Clint Eastwood
The Eastwood Factor: 90 minute documentary in HD
“George (Matt Damon) is a blue-collar American with a special connection to the afterlife dating from his childhood. French journalist Marie (Cécile De France) has a near-death experience that shakes her reality. And when London schoolboy Marcus (Frankie and George McLaren) loses the person closest to him, he desperately needs answers. Each seeking the truth, their lives will intersect, forever changed by what they believe might or must exist in the hereafter.”
“Hereafter” is rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements including disturbing disaster and accident images, and for brief strong language.
After this dramatic, effects-filled opening “Hereafter” shifts gears entirely. It turns into a quiet, dialogue driven character drama. We follow George who is able to speak to the dead. George is desperate to lead a normal life but his ability keeps getting in the way of that. We also follow Marcus, a young British boy whose twin brother has died. He goes on a spiritual quest to try and figure out what happened to his brother after his death. And then we follow Marie as her life is changed by her near death experience and the fact that her boyfriend and her colleagues don’t believe it. The three stories, seemingly unrelated, eventually converge for an ending all together.
“Hereafter” is interesting in that it looks at death from three different perspectives. You have someone that has gone to the other side and come back, someone that communicates with the other side, and someone desperately trying to find answers about the other side. It’s like three short films rolled into one. However, each of those stories is interesting at different times. They’re never all engaging at the same time. At times George’s story is the best. At times Marcus’ is the most interesting. And unfortunately Marie’s story is most interesting at the very beginning of the film. The result is a rather uneven narrative that is exciting at the beginning and slow in the middle while being alternatively engaging and boring. When all of the stories converge at the end, it’s pretty anti-climactic and unbelievable.
All of that being said, “Hereafter” is filled with strong performances. Matt Damon is good as George, the clairvoyant. He realistically portrays someone haunted by their abilities and desperate for a normal life. He’s well paired with Bryce Dallas Howard as Melanie. The two have a great scene together where she pushes him to speak to someone close to her that has died. Cécile De France is also memorable as Marie LeLay. Her performance is almost entirely in French, but it adds to the authenticity of her role. Young Frankie McLaren is also a solid performer as Marcus.
If you’re wanting to watch “Hereafter” based on the scenes of the tsunami alone, then you’re probably going to be disappointed. This is more like “The Sixth Sense” lite than a disaster movie. The overall result is kind of a light, mellow, and sometimes boring look at life after death.
The bonus features are a tad light as far as “Hereafter” goes. You’ll find a series of featurettes covering ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’, the effects of the tsunami scene, bonds between twins, and more. They feature interviews with cast, crew, and experts in the fields being discussed. They also present both sides of the issues. If they show a psychic, they also show a scientific skeptic. But these featurettes are rather minor compared to “The Eastwood Factor.” This is an hour-and-a-half documentary on the life and films of Clint Eastwood. It’s quite interesting and covers everything from his early life to Dirty Harry, but it’s not all that related to the making of “Hereafter.”