DVD Review of Hereafter: Don’t be fooled by its title — Clint Eastwood’s latest film is not about dying. Nor does it make any concrete statement about what happens after we die. Rather, Hereafter deals with the age-old quest to come to terms with not only our own mortality, but also the fact that — so far — no one has been able to figure out exactly what will become of us once we take our last breath.
George (Matt Damon) Lonegan is psychic — when he touches another person, he’s immediately hit with visions of their loved ones who have passed on. On top of that, he can communicate with those vision-spirits. He used to make a living off of this extraordinary ability, but eventually put his days of dealing with the dead behind him because he saw his power as a “curse.” Now he wants nothing more than to lead a normal life. But is that even possible?
Damon can certainly come off like an Everyman when he wants to (see The Informant! for more proof) — there’s not a hint of Jason Bourne here. He disappears into Lonegan, who — without his gift — is not much more than a kinda frumpy guy who’s really, really lonely. He has a difficult time completely walking away from his old gig, however, because there are just so many people out there who are desperate for the slightest bit of hope that their wives/husbands/children who have died are truly in a better place.
Across the pond, famous TV journalist Marie Lelay (the wonderful Belgian actress Cécile de France) begins to question everything — her career, her relationship, the medical establishment — after she survives a tsunami. And elsewhere in Europe, twin brothers (Frankie and George McLaren) are trying to help cover for their addict mum so they don’t get taken away by Social Services. They can’t imagine being without one another… until they’re forced to.
Through the lives of George, Marie and the McLarens, Eastwood and screenwriter Peter (Frost/Nixon, The Queen) Morgan raise a lot of universal questions about the possibility of an afterlife, but they offer no specific take. They avoid directly challenging any given religion or belief, but do have a bit of fun with those who claim to have all the answers — or those who try to profit off of others’ fear and pain.
I personally found Hereafter to be uplifting, despite its intentional vagueness. I know not everyone will feel the same way. But there are questions and ideas floating around in my head now that weren’t there before I saw the film. So I take that as a sign that Eastwood’s latest endeavor made quite an impact on me. I wish more movies were as thoughtful and compelling.
Hereafter is now available on DVD at redbox. Reserve a copy.