By Dirk Sonniksen | October 21, 2010
Director: Clint Eastwood
Writer: Peter Morgan
Starring: Matt Damon, Cécile De France, Thierry Neuvic, Jay Mohr, Bryce Dallas Howard, Frankie McLaren, George McLaren
Oh Clint, what strange land hath thou taken us to? It’s a land of bizarre ghostly figures, depressed clairvoyants, and British children who wander aimlessly under the gray skies of London. It’s a place of tsunamis juxtaposed against calm, comfortable French restaurants, with French people speaking smartly with subtitles. It’s a place of grown men eating (and cooking) alone. It’s a purposeful place, but oddly lacking purpose. It’s a land of talented actors speaking lines that leave their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths. Oh Clint, what hast thou done!
Yes, here in the Hereafter, even Matt Damon cannot slay the mighty beast. Here, Matt plays George, a lonely psychic, who is afraid to touch another for fear of channeling their dead relatives. Meanwhile, halfway around the globe, Marie (Cécile De France) has had a brush with death and things are getting very weird. What will she do? What will happen? Will she seek out George for guidance? No, not a chance—come on! In London, a tragedy has a little boy looking at his feet and looking for answers. Hint: they are not on your feet.
Indeed, Hereafter is a strange place and a strange movie. It’s not strange in that cocking your head and wondering way, although you will certainly start to do so after about an hour into the film. No, it’s strange in that Clint Eastwood could have directed such a disjointed dud. What starts out as a somewhat interesting film with an indie vibe eventually morphs into a sugarcoated frenzy of trite dialogue and incessant location changes; characters that held our interest begin to lose their charm, and we are left with a film that is utterly predictable.
Matt Damon is by far my favorite in Hereafter even though he’s not given a lot to do, which just shows that he can even do nothing well. Cécile De France does an admirable job as our French tsunami survivor, but her abilities are bogged down by the same sort of purposelessness from which Mr. Damon suffers. As for our British twins, Frankie & George McLaren (Marcus and James respectfully), they do little more than whine throughout the film. Jay Mohr plays Damon’s money-hungry brother, a character that could have been cut from the film completely. Bryce Dallas Howard plays George’s brief love interest, and was possibly the only character that exuded any energy in Hereafter.
Hereafter is one of those films that many will enjoy because it’s got two things that some people love: psychics that communicate with dead people and a happy ending. (Shit, I just gave away the ending!) Indeed, the trailer for this film features a lot of that smoky, swirly effect with people walking around, the kind of thing that makes people say, “that movie is going to be cool!” Unfortunately, there is very little of the after-world in Hereafter; in fact there is only one dead person in the entire movie. Yes, I was hoping for more dead people, and well, a better movie. Instead, Hereafter is lost in a void that defies its genre, and if you get lost in that void, you’re screwed. In the future, I would suggest Mr. Eastwood stick with what he knows best— perhaps another western? The here and now is where it’s at, Clint, so please, no more ghost movies. Stay away from the light!