Sadly, not even Eastwood's skill of film can save Hereafter from it's pace and misdirection.
Clint Eastwood has tackled many things in his career of film. He's been a cowboy, an outlaw, and a cranky old racist with a heart of gold. He's also an acclaimed director of such films as Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino and Invictus. But how does Eastwood hold up against a drama about the after-life and how others deal with death? Surprisingly, it's a bit of a disappointment.
Hereafter offers the look at three different people. There's George Lonegan (Matt Damon), a retired psychic who sees his "power" as a curse more than a gift. Unfortunately, his older brother, Billy (Jay Mohr), thinks George should continue a career in "talking to the dead" and make more money than he is at a San Fransisco Sugar Cane Factory.
Enter French Journalist, Marie LeLay (Cecile De France). After suffering a near death experience at the hands of a tsunami, Marie is haunted by the vision of shadows and ominous figures. The never ending support of her lover/supervisor has caused her to research more into the idea of near death experiences.
Marcus and Jason (Frankie and George McLaren) are brothers who spend nearly every waking moment covering for their junkie mother, Jackie, so the London Social Services won't take them away from each other. Once Jason is struck by a car, Marcus finds himself at the hands of a new family and the only reminder he has of his brother is a framed photo and his baseball cap.
The majority of Hereafter's runtime finds the audience studying each character and their connection with death. And this would not be an issue if the script weren't so bland. See, this isn't a film of constant disaster and traveling between life and death. This is simply a story about the beliefs of death while we live. Hereafter is a film that could survive perfectly as a 90 minute drama but suffers at it's runtime of 129 minutes. The acting is just fine, thanks to the like of Damon, France and McLaren. They keep their characters alive (no pun intended) and believable. Now, if only the drama surrounding these characters weren't so dead (complete pun intended).
That's not to say certain scenes aren't captivating. Damon's budding romance with his cooking partner, Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard), is intriguing enough to look forward to the outcome. The lasting struggle to keep their family together keeps the brief story of Marcus and Jason's fresh and enjoyable, until Jason's plot-necessary death. Marie, sadly, doesn't have as interesting a story. She was nearly killed by a tsunami and is faced with how to cope with visions she has. Oh, and these visions? They technically only happen once. So her story drags itself through the movie's runtime and ultimately causes most of the film's slow pace.
The main point of interest comes in the form of Eastwood's signature qualities as a director. Especially during the segments of Matt Damon's character. Heavy shadows hanging over half of the faces of his characters adds a level of mystery that keep the audience interested. The sequel pairing of Eastwood and Damon are clearly the driving forces keeping Hereafter from staying uninteresting.
Thanks to an unfortunately slow script by writer Peter Morgan, Hereafter is a slow, semi-interesting story of how death can affect those near it. Sadly, not even Eastwood's skill of film can save Hereafter from it's pace and misdirection.