Taking my time getting back into movie-going mode, I finally got to see Clint Eastwood's latest, Hereafter with my usual suspects, K; Q and Dale.
Telling three stories that intersect at the end, Eastwood takes his time exploring a subject that for many (myself, included - though more on that in a bit*) is often suspect.
French power journalist Marie LeLay (High Tension's Cecille de France) is on a tropical vacation with her lover/producer, when she is swept up in a tsunami where she drowns and is revived, but not before experiencing a vision of what she believes is the afterlife. She is soon consumed by the vision, to the point where she can no longer concentrate on the political controversies that made her a star. Meanwhile, Matt Damon is San Francisco based medium George Lonegan, who has given up doing readings because he feels that a life spent with the dead is no life at all, despite his brother Billy's (Jay Mohr sporting an exceptionally bad haircut) protestations. Finally, British twins Marcus and and Jason (Frankie & George Mclaren) live with their addict mum, trying to keep their family together, despite the best efforts of Human Services. When Jason is killed in a car accident while attempting to buy the drugs that might help Mum recover, Marcus becomes obsessed with finding a way to contact his brother.
Slow and studied, Eastwood's film concentrates on the human aspects of his tale, rather than exploiting the supernatural elements. The performances in Hereafter are exceptional, to say the least and Damon plays the role of the tortured psychic who views his talents as a curse, rather than a gift, with particular humanity. Bryce Dallas Howard (The Village; Spider-Man 3) is excellent as the gal who is sweet on George until he gives her a reading (despite his protestations) and appearances in smaller roles from Steve Schirrapa and Richard Kind are just icing on an already well-made cake.
While the film's denouement may be be a bit rushed (especially considering the rest of the film's easy pace) and pat, it still leaves audiences' with a sense of hopefulness and is ultimately quite uplifting. I'll admit to crying more than once or twice (the scene where Marcus loses his brother could rip the heart out of the coldest of bastards), though K found it the movie too long and slow.Personally, I found it beautifully written and filmed, wonderfully acted and paced almost exactly as it needed to be. ***1/2 (Three and a Half Out of Four Stars).
*As for the subject of the afterlife, while I remain skeptical, I have had an experience (or four) which make me take pause, one of which involves Q, who brought it up in our post-viewing discussion. Not long after Q's mother passed away, I had a dream in which Q's mother appeared to me with a very specific message for for Q. Of course, when I related that message, Q understood and immediately felt better. I've had similar dreams involving my paternal grandmother, my father and a much-loved uncle by marriage, all of which had meaning to me, but no one else. So, do these dreams have any real significance, or are they simply products of my own subconscious? I have no idea, though I do know the dream about Q's mother certainly meant something to her. I'd like to think (as do we all) that there is something beyond "this mortal coil," but given the scientific evidence to date, must declare myself a skeptic.
I'll be back with my review of AMC's new series "The Walking Dead," much later this evening, though I'll give you a hint and tell you right now that I loved it.