Sunday, May 29, 2011

HEREAFTER

Matt Damon, Cecile de France, Frankie McLaren
George McLaren, Bryce Dallas Howard



"Hereafter" is a supernatural drama which follows three separate story lines set in different countries that ultimately intertwine.

In the first one, a French journalist Marie (Cecile de France) survives a natural disaster. Her near death experience compels her to explore what may or may not happen after we pass on. So most of the dialogue is in French with English subtitles.

The second story follows George (Matt Damon), a blue collar worker in San Francisco who was once a medium. He truly had a legitimate gift and made quite a fortune from it. Yet he now believes it is a "curse" and has abandoned it, completely. While his brother (Jay Mohr) is pressuring him to get back into the highly lucrative medium business.

The third story takes place in London and follows young twins Marcus and Jason (George and Frankie McLaren) who cope with a drug addict mom and their travails with social services. A tragedy strikes that will ultimately link this storyline with that of George and Marie's as each protagonist searches for answers about may happen in the after life.

Surprisingly, this film is directed by Clint Eastwood who would be the least person you would expect to venture into this genre. So it might disappoint those expecting a more traditional and more insightful probe into what really occurs after we pass on. He is a filmmaker with a deliberately low-key approach to everything, and his failure to present the afterlife with any meaning or originality is among the many faults of "Hereafter".

Its visual presentation of the afterlife as indistinct figures milling around in front of a white light was quite amateurish. It could have come straight from one of those documentaries in which people recount their near-death experiences in between dramatized re-enactments.

Telling three stories linked only vaguely by the notion of death, it throws around a lot of ideas about grief and longing but never really uncovers any of them. Plus the fact that it extends beyond the 2 hours mark is another flaw. It just got too tedious to invest yourself into the plight of the forlorn characters.

Yet it is a well-crafted drama with poignant and though provoking questions that is supernatural enough to warrant being labeled a genre film. For those interested in a character drama that ponders some big questions, though, you might find this film mildly intriguing. Otherwise, you just might find the answers to these questions in a Mitch Albom novel!

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