What happens to us when we die? That's the $1 million (baby?) question Director Clint Eastwood poses to his audience in his new film, "Hereafter." Carefully cautious, he leaves it up to the viewer for consideration but hints heavily of an afterlife.
Three separate storylines eventually converge, oddly enough, at the London Book Fair. The film begins with a terrifying tsunami, so perfectly shot (CGI at its most powerful) the intensity makes your heart race. A French news reporter (Cecile de France) on vacation is viciously swept away by the wall of water and has a near-death experience, which profoundly alters her life.
Matt Damon plays an American psychic who's in denial about his ability to communicate with the dead, deeming it a curse rather than a gift. His performance loudly echoes that of Christopher Walken's in "The Dead Zone." Both character's elusive powers are triggered by the grasping of hands.
Lastly in the trio is a London schoolboy (Frankie McLaren) whose twin brother has been struck by a truck and killed. Taken from his drug-addicted mother and thrust into foster care shortly after the horrible accident, the child embarks upon a frustrating search for a psychic who can put him in touch with his beloved brother.
Eastwood relies heavily on coincidence in "Hereafter." It works, because he magnificently manipulates the audience into totally sympathizing with his characters. We desperately want these three people to hook up and make this life worth living. Adherence to a moral code has always been instrumental in the success of Eastwood's films. In "Hereafter" he wisely doesn't deviate from that conviction.
The subject matter tackled in this thought-provoking film could have easily come off as sensational or even creepy (think: M. Night Shyamalan) — but not with the masterful Mr. Eastwood at its helm.
"Hereafter" is an intelligent foray into the unknown, piquing our innermost thoughts to ponder the beyond.
— Pam Nadon
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