Hereafter, a paranormal drama about three individuals who can communicate with the dead, hit theaters October 22nd. A part of me wants to give this film three stars – one for each of the separate storylines that did not converge until the last fifteen minutes – but honestly, I doubt it deserves even that many.
The film begins with a Frenchwoman, Marie Lelay (Cecile de France), being swept up in a freak tsunami off the coast of a tropical island. She barely makes it out alive, having had an odd encounter with the otherworld while unconscious. Across the Atlantic, American George Lonegan (Matt Damon) struggles to give up his career as a psychic and live a normal life. Although George claims to be happy working in a factory, his brother continues to pressure him to use his “gift” for the benefit of his clients. The last storyline involves twins Jason and Marcus (George and Frankie McLaren) and their single mother, who seems far more concerned with getting a fix and tricking social services than caring for her pre-teen sons. Before long, Marcus will find himself thrown into the world of psychics in hopes of finding a connection to the dead. These three people, all from completely different worlds, must overcome their personal crises and settle their scores with the hereafter.
I had absolutely no expectations coming into this movie, having never heard of it until the afternoon that my family decided to see it. You would think that being titled Hereafter would entail some supernatural intrigue, maybe a few horror-movie-esque scenes, and plenty of action. Not so. In fact, I found it unsuitably sentimental. The tsunami at the beginning was pretty cool, but after that the movie dragged. The paranormal aspect sometimes seemed an afterthought while the film took plenty of time exploring the characters’ personal lives. Basically, I spent most of the movie waiting for the movie to “start.”
Also, I should admit that I’ve never been a fan of the multiple-unrelated-plots-that-eventually-come-together – specially when it takes the entire movie for the characters to meet each other! It did not work well for this movie.
One aspect that really bothered me was the lighting. Everything was very dark. I understand that the director was trying to make a point – the themes and subjects dealt with were pretty bleak, but in some scenes the characters were nothing more than silhouettes. It got a little frustrating to watch.
Hereafter did have a few saving graces, though. Being a Francophile myself, I have to say I enjoyed that one of the storylines was set in France. Yes, that meant the majority of Marie’s scenes were in subtitles, but I didn’t find them too distracting. Having the action with Marcus take place in England while George was in America definitely made things interesting, especially since most of it was filmed on location.
The acting wasn’t bad on the whole, although it must be hard to work with such a mediocre script. Bryce Dallas Howard, who played George’s love interest Melanie, was very energetic and entertaining, while the little British boys certainly won the audience’s sympathy. Marie’s story was probably the most boring, but De France did a fine job with the character.
Clint Eastwood directed, produced, and wrote the music for Hereafter – and while I’m not a huge fan of his, I expected better. He has an extensive history in both directing (Hereafter marks his 30th film) and acting, and this just didn’t seem quite up to snuff. The film grossed roughly twelve million dollars on its opening weekend, placing fourth in box office behind Red, Jackass 3D, and Paranormal Activity II. It’s currently ranked above The Social Network, but I honestly don’t think that will last for long. This movie was a big letdown.