HEREAFTER Movie Review

by Rick Grant
In this Clint Eastwood film, he boldly ventured far from his comfort zone to produce and direct an unusual story. The scenario involves three main characters living in different countries who, in the beginning, have no relationship with each other. As the story unfolds the three characters start moving slowly toward a common center.
First, Marie LeLay (Cecile De France) is a talented telejournalist and commentator. She is a television star in France with billboards with her photo plastered all over Paris. She and her producer boyfriend go on holiday to Indonesia.
One morning she goes out for a walk and is caught up in the 2004 tsunami, which catches her violently into the raging gush of tons of sea water. She tries to stay at the surface but is hit by a hard object and drowns.
While she’s clinically dead, she has an after life experience. Then she is saved by strangers. This experience changes her whole perspective. When she returns to her job, she finds it difficult to concentrate and she has to take a leave of absence. She seeks help from a therapist but her experience with the shrink is not healing. She wants confirmation that her experience was real.
Meanwhile, in England, twin brothers Marcus and Jason are dealing with their mom’s alcohol and drug addiction. They cover for her the best they can, but finally social services steps in. Tragic events happen, and Marcus goes on a quest.
Cut to former psychic medium, George (Matt Damon) who suddenly quit giving readings and tried to live a regular life. He takes a job at a factory to make money while he finds another career. To George, his gift is a curse, since his psychic career leaves him drained and unable to connect with people–especially women.
When George gets the axe at the factory in a massive layoff, he signs up for a cooking school, where he meets Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard). Sparks fly when Melanie and George do a blindfold exercise to identify bits of food.
Howard’s portrayal of Melanie’s emotional changes are brilliantly subtle.
Peter Morgan’s script was modified for Eastwood’s fast track shooting style, which, for the most part, works well. I doubt many mainstream moviegoers will be patient enough to sit through all the disassociated scenarios to get to the core story. However, for savvy quality film goers, the slow trip to the prize is worth the payoff.
The movie opens in French with English subtitles, which was fine with me, but some viewers may be turned off and think the entire movie is in French.
Nonetheless, Hereafter is well worth sitting through the disassociated parts. Matt Damon and Cecile De France have explosive romantic chemistry together and their individual acting is noteworthy.