2010, 15, Directed by Clint Eastwood
Starring: Matt Damon, Cécile De France, Frankie McLaren, Thierry Neuvic
There is no doubt about the fact that Clint Eastwood is a living legend: offering up some of the most iconic performances and thrilling films in cinema history, it comes as something of an obvious surprise that Clint should venture into territory explored in his latest… the afterlife. His first film since personal passable bittersweet drama Gran Torino (in which he starred), Hereafter is a considered fitting pet project which makes it crystal that even after all these years, Dirty Harry himself is out to impress nobody but his own passion. Not that you should judge a film on past achievements though. Hereafter asserts itself pretty immediately in a large-scale, breathtaking yet devastating way that nobody can expect unless spoiled. We are soon introduced to three strands of plot each with three central characters from around the globe: Marie, a French journalist who encounters a near-death experience; George, an American with a ‘gift’; and Marcus, a young Londoner who has someone close to him pass away. It’s only a matter of time until their paths cross. Think a sombre Love, Actually.
The film has huge promise and does manage to sustain your attention through intrigue and low-key performances; these impress where the action sometimes confuses (mainly to do with Bryce Dallas Howard’s radiant Melanie), but Matt Damon overcomes the obstacle well by portraying his tortured George with the emotive feeling of a trapped soul longing for freedom from the ‘curse’ he possesses. The script lends focus to strong characterisation enhancing the performances and paving the way for future interactions. Alternatively, the problem with Peter Morgan’s script lay in the deprivation of substance when most needed, meaning that Hereafter manages to slip into melodrama. Similarly, when the film finally decides it wants to work its way towards a resolution, the anti-climatic way in which strands are intertwined are so brief that the endurance of the lengthy running time does not feel as worthwhile as you hope. The film may have huge promise, yes, but the film could also have been a whole lot more – especially in the hands of a legendary craftsman. Hereafter bravely asks the question ‘what happens when we pass away?’… It’s a shame that the viewer will be questioning Clint’s choice of film instead.