I think that if it weren’t for Matt Damon and director Clint Eastwood, I might have passed on Hereafter. I honestly have no interest in the metaphysical side of life or death. Whatever got me to see this film, I’m glad since it is a good movie that is nowhere near over the top with its message.
Telling the stories of three troubled, lost souls who all have a different connection to life after death. Damon’s character, George, is a man who had a near-death experience years ago which left him with a connection to people in the afterlife. Marie was injured and almost killed in the tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean. And Marcus loses his twin brother in an accident and after his death, Marcus’ entire family falls to shreds so he desperately wants to find a way to communicate with his late twin Jason.
The culmination of these three stories intertwining at the end might sound corny. If done differently, it very well might have been corny. But, Eastwood’s subtle touch with the characters allows the audience to feel what they choose to feel … not being forced into feeling any emotions. The performances also contribute to the sincerity and originality of the ending.
This is a strong departure role for Damon. He’s not chasing any baddies here. He’s not looking good just for the sake of looking good (any of the Oceans’ movies would fall into this category). He’s not muscled up. He’s just a man … a man with a gift that he has no idea how he got and no idea how to get rid of it.
When we see him on screen, we see that he’s deeply troubled but we have no idea how he’s going to help himself. (Saving the world is not an option here like in the Bourne movies.) We believe him when he says he really does not want to help people anymore. We believe he is tormented by his gift. We feel for him. But we know Matt Damon is a good actor.
The surprises here are the performances by Cécile De France, a Belgium actress, and first time actors Frankie and George McLaren, who play Marcus. The McLaren boys really capture Marcus’ shattered innocence at both losing his brother and his mother, a heroin addict who goes off the rails after Jason dies. De France breathes a freshness into Marie that is vital to the believability of the character.
So, no matter what you’ve heard or what you think, I suggest you give this one a chance. It’s not one of Eastwood’s best (and I would say Invictus is the finer of the Eastwood/Damon pairings) but for something different than the average drama, this one might get you thinking!
Hereafter: 2010, PG-13, 129 minutes, directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Matt Damon, Cécile De France, Richard Kind, Jay Mohr, and George and Frankie McLaren. The Niles Public Library owns this title on DVD.