|Still from Hereafter|
When you're a Director of Clint Eastwood's stature, rarely do you ever make a bad film. The question instead is, just how good your film is. Eastwood teams with Oscar-winning Screenwriter Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) on Fantasy-Drama Hereafter, which ties together the stories of three people in different parts of the world who experience death in different ways.
George Lonegan (Matt Damon) is a man with the psychic ability to communicate with the dead, although he never has truly come to terms with this. Instead, he opts to live the simple life as a factory worker in anonymity. Under the persistent urging of his brother Billy (Jay Mohr), George is encouraged once again to re-visit a joint venture, capitalizing off his psychic abilities, despite his hesitance to do so.
While taking a Cooking Class, George meets Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard) who starts a new life in San Francisco, attempting to bury a dark past. Once she discovers that George is psychic, the possibility of them pursuing a relationship together is destroyed after he unveils some pieces of Melanie's past (at her urging) she also has never come to terms with.
Meanwhile, while vacationing on an Island with her lover, renowned French journalist Marie LeLay (Cécile De France) has a near-death experience, almost getting killed in a catastrophic Tsunami. Soon after, she returns back to France and tries to re-adjust to her life there, but struggles to do so as she becomes fixated on what she saw while she was unconscious, prior to being revived by rescuers. She then makes the decision to focus on writing a book which explores the concept of a Hereafter, much to the disapproval of her colleagues.
Meanwhile in London, identical twins Marcus and Jason (Frankie and George McLaren) are fighting to keep Children's Aid workers from tearing them apart from their Alcoholic mother. Tragedy strikes, resulting in Jason's accidental death. After being separated from his mother, Marcus devotes his energies to finding a way to communicate with his beloved deceased brother. How is it then, that the stories of these seemingly unrelated people become connected?
Eastwood once again delivers a fantastic piece of Cinema in Hereafter. Although slowly-paced, one's attention is always directed to the story and never elsewhere. A consistently excellent Damon delivers an understated, but still effective performance and French actress De France although still obscure in these parts, will definitely garner a lot of attention after this role. Unfortunately, Howard who is delightfully engaging in her fragility, is seen far too little here. Child actors Frankie and George McLaren are also v. good without ever bordering on the melodramatic, especially considering their sentimental story line - no doubt due to Eastwood's masterful direction. Where Hereafter falters is Morgan's The Da Vinci Code-like insistence that this already satisfying story must be tied-together by Romance.
Is Hereafter a beautiful, resonating story which will have you lingering in contemplation? Yes. Is this going to cause a stir during Awards season? Likely not. Warner Bros.' Hereafter hits theatres October 22, 2010. Grade: A-