Afterthoughts on Hereafter

Clint Eastwood’s latest, Hereafter, covers the touchy and somewhat taboo subject of death and the afterlife in a unique fashion. In a classic “Eastwoodian” style that refuses to shy away from the subject matter. Hereafter follows three separate groups of people as they all deal with very real situations surrounding the issue of life, death, and the hereafter. Here’s the trailer…followed by the review!

Hereafter, like the movie Crash, introduces the audience to three different groups of people and then allows their stories to intertwine (as fate would have it) as they are all struggling to come to grips with the realities forced upon them.  Together…and alone. Marie Lelay- a high profile French tv journalist who is troubled after a recent death/near-death experience; Marcus- a young melancholy boy seeking for answers in regards to his twin brother and only friend, Jason, recently deceased; and George Lonegan- an ex-psychic trying to shed his past as such and the burdens and troubles that resulted in order to search for a “normal” life with companionship. (Having seen the trailer, I was slightly apprehensive to watch it, figuring what had to happen for the story to be told. Just like watching Marvel’s The Punisher and knowing Frank Castle’s story before watching the movie….knowing that his family had to die. I knew it would be sad.)

The storytelling and the cast in this film are major strengths and proponents of its success as a movie. Eastwood allows his characters to tell the story, not just by word, but also by their actions and emotions. My friend Valdeez who viewed the movie with me stated that Eastwood’s use of non-mainstream actors to carry the film really strengthened it, in that it kept us from being distracted by main actors in roles and allowed us to focus in on the depth of character and realness portrayed. (You forget about Matt Damon as a “main actor” because he envelops his character so very well.) The young boy, Marcus, really draws you in emotionally and personally as you watch his strong relationship with his brother and the strive to keep that bond alive after his brother passes on.

The attitude of this story is one that teeter-totters on a see-saw of emotions between depression and relief, concern and carefree-ness, joy and sadness, companionship and loss, strong belief/presumption and the frustration of the unexplained. This is not a “laugh out loud and make you feel good movie.” This is a movie that is real and about the curveballs life throws at you. The music adds a nice soft touch to the emotion of the screen. Some of the scenes yanked a few tears from the eyes of moviegoers in the theater. The connections made with the actors in the film (specifically the inseparable twin brothers) allow for the film to have that sense of realism that so many directors hope for in their films. In this case, Eastwood didn’t have to work so hard to accomplish that due to the talent of the actors chosen as part of the cast. You, yourself, may need a tissue from time to time.

Along the lines of storytelling, I tend to agree (to a degree) with fellow movie review author, Dustin, from Pop Goes The Culture. He mentions how the movie, unlike any he’s ever seen, plays out so much like reading a book: chapter by chapter. Almost to its detriment, in his opinion. Click here to see his review! I agree with it playing out as a novel, but the way it moved back and forth between the different characters and their stories I actually loved. It made it different and not too many films do that. Don’t worry, the story does not move around back and forth so much that you get lost. It is well done, and very dramatical.

Throughout the film, one keeps looking for the possibility of closure on any level. It does move slow at parts as it tries to establish a foundation wherewith to build the story upon. (and also to establish the fact that this is NOT a movie like The Sixth Sense!) Eastwood takes us on a three-way journey to the same end. An end that comes rather abruptly without the complete sense of closure or clear-cut message that one might hope for or expect. We follow the sad struggles of all three characters, curious to see how their lives will intersect, get to 90 minutes in and realize that the movie hasn’t really gone anywhere and wonder how it will all be tied together. It’s a rather fast rollercoaster to the end in the last 40 minutes that I felt could have started a little bit sooner. Come the end of the film, you may end up just sitting there, like I did, in contemplation of the film, its message, characters, story, and so forth as it touches so many parts of the human soul….issues of human connection, life after death, love, family, and the search for answers surrounding all of those issues. For a film that poses so many questions…very few answers are provided. One day we’ll get all of the answers, but that will not be the day you opt to watch this amazingly told film. Eastwood and cast leave those answers to you, the viewer, to find.

While not Eastwood’s finest, it’s not that far off either. I’m curious, which of his films do you like most?

P.S. Allow me to say, that I was slightly disappointed with Bryce-Dallas Howard’s performance in this one. (With as much discussion of her in regards to this movie that I had heard…it didn’t match any of the hype.) Sorry, had to throw that in there!

Thanks for reading!  

Enjoy if you wish…or don’t enjoy! Happy watching!

 –The Sp1der’s Score Overall: 7 out of 10 stars Hereafter”

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6 comments

  1. T! I would agree with you on a lot of parts of this. I felt it moved a bit slow, and sort of ended abruptly to leave you thinking about it for a while. I thought it was interesting, in pondering the movie, that it seems the tsunami/tidal wave thing seemed to be the actual event that hit indonesia, and the bombings of the subway in London were also a real event, dont you think?

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    • I did find that rather interesting that Eastwood chose those particular events. I just wished he would’ve gone into the hereafter a bit more. It didn’t really do that. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

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  2. Great review T, I had trepidation about seeing this movie as I mentioned in one of your posts, but after reading this I might give it a chance on dvd. I am not hugely familiar with Eastwood’s work but I like Invictus a great deal and the man definitely has a gift of storytelling and tackling a serious & controversial subject matter with panache. His use of music is also noteworthy, as you mentioned here. As a person of faith, I have a certain worldview I subscribe to. Funny you mention “For a film that poses so many questions…very few answers are provided.” Well I certainly won’t be looking to Hollywood for answers to crucial life & death issues 🙂

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    • thanks so much for reading and commenting on this one! I thought that it was an odd choice of title since the actual hereafter was very rarely discussed in the film. Hollywood is not the place to lean on for answers for any “crucial life & death issues.” nicely put. Now, if you want to learn how to rob a bank, or be a superhero, or a super secret agent…there’s where Hollywood might answer a few questions for us! Thanks for stopping by!

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