Directed by Clint Eastwood
Written by Peter Morgan
Clint Eastwood is a filmmaker who has been waning in popularity probably starting with Mystic River, it is hard to say. Personally I have kept up with Eastwood and largely enjoyed his releases like Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby and Invictus to a certain extent. Gran Torino on the other hand is something that I found to be somewhat unbearable. Certainly his history as a director shows him to be a very capable and sometimes very great filmmaker. He has what it takes in other words. So now I come to his most recent release, Hereafter, which, like Gran Torino, turns into somewhat of a debacle, albeit one of a different nature.
The film follows three separate storylines. The first is that of French journalist Marie, who has a near death experience while on vacation. The second is that of Marcus, whose life becomes turbulent when family services takes him away from his heroine addicted mother and his twin older brother, by 12 minutes, dies in a terrible accident. The third story is that of George Lonegan, played by familiar star Matt Damon. Lonegan has a unique gift, or as he calls it, a curse: he can form connections with people and see into the after life and converse with deceased persons important to that person. As can be expected, however, all things come together in the end, and the paths of these three people inexplicably cross.
The problem I found with this film is that it is far too shallow. Because we have three different storylines, we never spend enough time with one character, and when I felt like we were just getting to know one of them, we were taken away to one of the other characters. There just wasn’t enough for me to bite off. All three stories were interesting in their own ways and I felt could have been developed further. I understand time constraints as the film runs a little over two hours as is, but I mean each could have had their own film, that is how much more I wanted to know these characters and spend time with them, but it just didn’t happen that way. Especially with the George character and his struggle to live a normal life with his condition. He meets a very interesting person that we soon learn very little about, or better yet, just enough to want to know so much more, before she is gone and out of the film altogether.
There was too much going on, too many scenes that I didn’t understand why they were in there. The best scene in the film, the taste-testing scene, was one of these scenes. It was good, but it didn’t end up going anywhere, just like the rest of the film. Admittedly, I do not care much about the afterlife or the hereafter, and I do not have theories or dwell on it, but I felt like Eastwood didn’t care either. I am not sure what story he was trying to tell, what message he wanted to get across. The ending too brought no resolution and what it was going for was completely unearned to that point. There are glimpses of that once great filmmaker in this film, but the end result is far away from what I once knew of Clint Eastwood, and so is the score composed by him, which always felt off and intrusive.