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Hereafter movie poster

Hereafter: Movie Review

Genre: Drama
Rated: PG-13
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Starring: Matt Damon, Cécile De France, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jenifer Lewis, Jay Mohr, Richard Kind
Released by: Warner Bros.

In Short: This glacially paced treatise on communicating with the dead is for true believers only; all others beware.

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Ho Hum “Hereafter”

With “Hereafter,” Clint Eastwood marks a personal milestone. It’s the 31st film the actor/ director has helmed, and he also turned 80 in May. And while Eastwood is still going strong as one of Hollywood’s most iconic forces, he’s clearly begun thinking about what will happen when his time on earth comes to a close.

For that’s what “Hereafter” is all about, intertwining three individual stories into one long, very slow-paced contemplation of what happens to us after we die.

The film starts out with a bang, as French television journalist Marie (Cecile de France) and her boyfriend are spending an idyllic vacation in a tropical paradise. As Marie wanders the island’s outdoor market looking for trinkets to carry home, a tsunami strikes. That extended scene is an incredible cinematic sequence, and one that you will not soon forget.

Marie survives, but her near-death experience begins to obsess her. Meanwhile, across the planet, George (Matt Damon) is trying to forget that he has ability to see into the netherworld, simply by touching a living person’s hands. And it seems that, according to “Hereafter,” anyway, and George’s visions, when we die we all end up standing around in an amorphous, shadowy crowd, waiting for someone like George to connect us with our loved ones still alive on earth. This isn’t the vision of a happy heaven they taught in Bible school!

Bryce Dallas Howard and Matt Damon in Hereafter Cécile De France in Hereafter

There’s a third storyline, set in England, which follows twin 12-year-old boys on a journey of loss and sorrow. As the three stories slog toward an inevitable collision, Eastwood makes sure to show us all the charlatans that exist in the world, the faux “psychics” who have no pipeline to the afterlife, and who simply prey on the vulnerable by claiming to communicate with the dead. Meanwhile, we’re supposed to believe that George is different, that his power is real, and that his vision of the hereafter is the true one.

But after the glacially paced film finally (finally!), rolls credits, one is left with the feeling that this, too, is simply another way to fleece believers out of their hard-earned cash. Eastwood and company have gotten you to hand over the price of admission in order to bathe in the solace they offer up. The film allows you to dream for a few hours that if you find the right medium in the real world, he’ll put you in communication with your dead loved ones in the afterworld. A better use of those two hours, in our book, would be to actually spend that time with those you love that are still here, communicating earnestly and honestly. Then there will be no need later to try to talk to the dead.

Reviewed by Jenny Peters

(Updated: 10/22/10 CT)

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