Starring Matt Damon, Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter is a drama centered around three people – a blue-collar American, a French journalist and a London school boy – who are touched by death in different ways.
Business rating: 0.5
Star cast: Matt Damon, Cécile De France, Frankie McLaren, George McLaren.
What’s Good: The interesting premise of the film; the performances; the pleasing cinematography.
What’s Bad: The jumbled screenplay; the slow pace at which the story progresses; the contrived climax.
Verdict: ‘Hereafter’ will make for an interesting watch for the elite audience only; it will, however, fare badly at the Indian box-office.
Loo break: A few scenes in the second half can be given a miss.
Watch or Not?: Watch only if you have the stomach for painfully slow dramas.
Amblin Entertainment, The Kennedy/Marshall Company and Malpaso Productions’ Hereafter is a drama about a psychic, a journalist and a small kid who are connected to each other by mortality and meet in an unexpected way.
The film begins with a massive tsunami hitting the Thailand shore. Marie Lelay (Cécile De France), a French TV journalist, who is holidaying in Thailand with her boyfriend, Didier (Thierry Neuvic), has a near-death experience when she almost drowns in the tsunami waters, before she is saved by a couple of locals. Just before being resuscitated, Marie has a vision. Shattered but not broken, Marie and Didier return to Paris and Marie stars hosting a new season of her current affairs programme. But finding her distracted most of the time, Didier, who is also her show’s producer, suggests that she take a break and start working on a book. Marie starts talking to publishers but is still obsessed about finding out more about the vision she had. She researches near-death experiences and even writes a book on the subject of the afterlife, something that her publisher refuses to buy. Out of job and having lost her boyfriend to another woman, Marie finds relief in the fact that her book is being published at last by another publisher. She leaves for the book launching that is set to happen in London.
In London, 12-year-old twins Marcus and Jason (Frankie McLaren and George McLaren) are desperate to prevent their alcoholic, heroin-addicted mother, Jackie (Lyndsey Marshal), from losing them to social services. Unfortunately, one day, Jason is killed in a freak accident. Social services send Jackie to a rehab while a bereaved Marcus is sent to a foster home. Besides himself with grief, Marcus tries everything to get in touch with his dead brother, whom he misses a lot.
San Francisco-based George Lonegan (Matt Damon) is a psychic who can talk to the dead. George got this ability when, as a child, he had multiple near-death experiences during a prolonged illness. Although he used to make a handsome amount using his psychic power commercially, he is now tired of it and wants a normal life. Hence, he does manual labour and earns a modest living. George’s brother, Billy (Jay Mohr), however, wants George to use his unique gift to help people desperate to connect with their dead relatives. After a jilted romance with Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard), a girl he meets at a cooking class, and after losing his job, George agrees to Billy’s request for setting up shop again. However, he panics at the last moment and leaves for London.
What happens when these three protagonists meet in London forms the climax of the film.
Story & Screenplay – Hereafter Review
Peter Morgan’s story is commendable in the way it looks at the subject of afterlife, which has been dealt with in many movies in the past. Each of the three character’s lives is dramatic and shapes up well in the screenplay. However, because their stories are not separated from each other, and happen simultaneously in the screenplay, it gets a little tiring to watch after a point of time. The film’s slow pace doesn’t help either. Moreover, the climax of the film is too convenient to appear to be true. The three characters meet incidentally, but the coincidence seems contrived. A majority of the Indian audience will find this as the sore point of the film. However, having said that, it must be added that the three stories, all of which have to do with death, are very interesting to watch, although they are brought out in a subtle manner by the screenplay. The opening tsunami scene is wonderfully created and looks horrifyingly real for which the visual effects team deserves full marks.
Star Performances – Hereafter Review
Matt Damon, who seems to have put on weight for his character, delivers another classy performance. Cécile De France is also good. But it is the twin kids, Frankie McLaren and George McLaren, who take the cake for their natural performances. The rest of the cast members – Jay Mohr, Lyndsey Marshal, Rebekah Staton, Bryce Dallas Howard and others – provide able support.
Direction – Hereafter Review
This is not director Clint Eastwood’s best film so far, but maybe the man has started rusting with age. He builds a good foundation for the film, but spoils it all in the last few reels. The background score, also by Clint Eastwood, is melodious and effective. Tom Stern’s beautiful cinematography is one of the highlights of the film. Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach’s editing could have been better.
The Last Word
All in all, Hereafter will not create any ripples at the Indian box-office, thanks partly due to dull promotion.