Matt Damon and Clint Eastwood, the actor/director duo from “Invictus,” have teamed up again in the supernatural drama, “Hereafter.” Those who have seen Eastwood’s other directorial works such as “Million Dollar Baby,” “Gran Torino” and “Mystic River” should be acquainted with the emotional roller coaster his films typically deliver, and “Hereafter” is no exception.
The movie has three intersecting characters who are carefully woven together, each of whom displays a different perspective on death and how these protagonists deal with loss in their own unique way. Damon plays George, a formerly renowned psychic who is able to speak with the dead turned blue-collar sugarmill employee. George prefers life under the radar and believes that “a life that’s all about death is no life at all,” although his brother constantly tries to persuade him back to his old job. His brother sees it as George’s duty, while George feels cursed by this so-called gift.
Marie Lelay (de France) is a French journalist on assignment in Thailand with her boss/boyfriend Didier (Thierry Neuvic) when she becomes a victim of the infamous tsunami that struck that area in 2004. During the disaster, Marie dies, has visions and then is miraculously brought back to life. Her whole world begins to revolve around this event, and it continues to affect every aspect of her life.
Identical twin boys Marcus and Jason (Frankie and George McLaren) are the third installment of this story. These brothers are forced to grow up very fast in order to survive, because their mother, Jackie, is a drug addict and alcoholic. Afraid of being taken away by social services, the boys do everything they can to be the adults of the house when their mother cannot be. When Jackie sends Jason out to get a prescription filled for detox medication, Jason calls Marcus and tells him to go online and find out what type of drugs they are. When they find out, they are excited to finally have a “normal family.” However, Jason is struck and killed by a vehicle, and Marcus is left to pick up the pieces.
Unlike other films of this genre, which usually have a much more direct approach and leave no stone unturned, “Hereafter” leaves the viewer with unanswered questions while still getting the message across. Right from the start, the movie clearly gives the distinction that there is indeed an afterlife and the three protagonists are used to show how each character deals with their knowledge of this in their own unique way.
The story does a great job of giving each character their own personality traits, making them more relatable to moviegoers. George is a shut-in who has an obsession with the works of Charles Dickens; Marie is a famous reporter who takes great pride in what she does and is also a very compassionate person who’s set on using her fame for the right reasons; and Marcus is a bright young kid who looks up to his brother Jason very much, and feels lost without his guidance and companionship. He and his brother are extremely devoted to their mother, even though she couldn’t always return the favor because of her lifestyle choices.
Although the three main characters come from very different lives and have very different life experiences, “Hereafter” shows that there is hope for each and every one of them if they know where to look for it. Together, they explore the dynamics of the afterlife and spirituality without ever jamming a set of beliefs down the viewer’s throat. In that respect, it has a fluidity that other films cannot offer; it has a quality that moves the audience without subduing them.
The holidays are approaching, which means there’s sure to be a theater full of new blockbuster movies; I recommend that if you want to see something with a little more depth and substance, give “Hereafter” a shot.