Friday, October 29, 2010

‘Hereafter’– Intriguing and insightful, just a bit too slow…

Have you ever taken a long road trip before? We recently went down to Carbondale to visit my son at SIU; the trip was over 6 hours (because of construction along the way) – sitting in the same spot/position; by the time we emerged from the car our butts were screaming for relief. But once we got there – the campus was beautiful and we were happy to see our son. ‘Hereafter’ is a bit like that – a long journey to get to the inevitable fulfilling destination.

‘Hereafter’ is a thought provoking film that takes far too long to get to the destination. Clint Eastwood, who has become a master filmmaker, delivers a very deep as well as deliberate film that will take every bit of patience you have to get to the reward. This is a film lovers film; one that is meant to appeal to your mind as well as your visual sense. If you are a ‘Jack Ass 3D’ fan, you would do yourself a favor and avoid this film.

Spanning three countries, ‘Hereafter’ brings together three characters that are united in the common form of death. Marie LeLay (Cecile de France) is saved from the clutches of death after a devastating Tsunami. Marcus (Frankie and George McLaren), a young British boy, has his identical twin brother ripped from his life when the boy is killed in a car accident and American George Logan (Matt Damon) is the gifted psychic who can actually speak to the dead. Gifted and tortured as the ability has left him unable to communicate successfully with the living; “This is not a gift”, he tells his brother, “This is a curse.”

Marie’s professional life as a TV News Magazine reporter (the French version of 60 Minutes), begins to unravel after she becomes obsessed with her near death experience. She starts to author a novel on the hereafter, something her superiors would rather she forget. George’s ‘gift’ or ‘curse’ centers around touch – when he touches anyone, he is immediately connected to the hereafter and those that have passed on closest to the individual he is touching. This creates a barrier to any intimate relationship he could hope to have, as illustrated in his failed attempt at romance with Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard). But it is young Marcus that endures the worst pain as his twin brother is tragically killed and Marcus is left to care for a heroin addicted mother.

All three lives are destined to intersect – we know that and can assume that, yet Eastwood still carries us through the detail of their journeys. Not as much attention is paid to George as I would have liked – his story was the most intriguing and by the end we are left to ponder more than we are fulfilled. But perhaps that is the intention of the story, to allow us to ponder, to question the roads that we take or have yet to take. As always Eastwood provides a cinematic treat for the eyes and the mind. Matt Damon is strong as the leading man and continues to prove that he is a high caliber actor worthy of praise. This is his second film with Eastwood and I can only hope that he has more in his future, they team up well.

This is a 3 ½ star journey worth the effort and indulgence.
My Redbox pick centers around Matt Damon this week. ‘The Informant’ teams up Damon with another winning director, Steven Soderberg, in a film about a corporate whistle blower in a very true and very funny story. Damon is fantastic in this film and this 4 star effort is an eye opener to the corporate lies and cover-ups that happen often.

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