‘Hereafter’ Review

Published 3 years ago by , Updated October 5th, 2012 at 7:33 am,

Hereafter Reviews Hereafter Review

Screen Rant’s Ben Kendrick reviews Hereafter

A lot of media outlets have described Clint Eastwood’s latest film, Hereafter as the famed director’s foray into sci-fi drama. It’s a clever marketing angle, especially around Halloween, but the assertion is hollow fluff – designed for catchy headlines. If you think Hereafter is a sci-fi movie, you probably missed the film’s most prominent message.

Instead of a Sixth Sense clone, the film is a hard-hitting character drama centered around life’s greatest mystery: death. It does this by offering a variety of perspectives on the subject: a near death experience, a lingering grief, and a complicated “gift.” Even at the age of 80, Eastwood carefully manages three story threads – piecing together a somber but empowering film that finds a solid balance between servicing the characters and the filmmaker’s message.

In case you’ve missed out on the Hereafter marketing blitz, here’s the official synopsis:

“Hereafter tells the story of three people who are haunted by mortality in different ways. Matt Damon stars as George, a blue–collar American who has a special connection to the afterlife. On the other side of the world, Marie (Cécile de France), a French journalist, has a near–death experience that shakes her reality. And when Marcus (Frankie/George McLaren), a London schoolboy, loses the person closest to him, he desperately needs answers. Each on a path in search of the truth, their lives will intersect, forever changed by what they believe might—or must—exist in the hereafter.”

Eastwood has already proven he’s got solid directing chops, but Hereafter may be one of his most ambitious attempts to date. The film ranges in tone from chaos, in the enormous Tsunami opening set-piece, to the shadowed quiet, where George Lonegan (Matt Damon) reluctantly “reads” inquirers. Even the film’s brief “afterlife” snippets, which could have been a disaster, are presented with an appealing approach.

The aforementioned Tsunami sequence is one of the most chilling large-scale action scenes in recent memory – proving that jaw-dropping visual effects can be coupled with great character drama – and don’t always have to rely on 3D space aliens or CGI robots to keep an audience invested.

While the bar is set exceptionally high right out of the gate, the film rarely disappoints, providing one captivating (though dreary) scene after another – most notably a charming moment between George and Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard) in Chef Carlo’s cooking class. This scene, as well as numerous others, is indicative of a harmony that audiences don’t often get to see in modern films – where the writer, the director, and the cast, each bring their A-game to the final product.

Hereafter Review Matt Damon Hereafter Review

Bryce Dallas Howard and Matt Damon in ‘Hereafter’

In addition to his work behind the lens, Eastwood deserves credit for bringing together a talented cast that spans the gamut in age and nationalities. Though the film takes modern psychics to task, Damon finds legitimacy with the audience through his convincing depiction of George’s struggle. It’s not just that he refuses to profit from his talent, or that he can actually listen to the dead, it is George’s selfish reluctance that makes him come alive. Damon handles these scenes with the same kind of concentration that he brought to Invictus and The Departed.

In addition, Belgian actress, Cécile de France, is great as Marie LeLay who, prior to her near-death experience in Thailand, was a tough political commentator. Hereafter tracks LeLay through a journey of self-discovery – as well as a compulsion to seek out the truth of her experience. The third principal lead, Marcus, is played by a pair of childhood actor brothers, Frankie and George McLaren. The pair is responsible for a few stiff performance moments, especially at a drug store early in the film, but overall they deliver – providing complicated emotions to a character that is extremely buttoned-up.

The Hereafter story handles its heavy subject matter with grace. The film manages to carefully balance the plot between humanity’s obsession with death (and as a result, our grief) with what it means to live (and move forward). Each of the three primary characters discovers that there is no easy answer – but that doesn’t mean there is no hope of comfort.

That said, there are a few glaring areas in the film where the filmmakers, themselves, clearly relied on easy answers. Refraining from specifics, the last 30 minutes of the movie mostly let go of the character-driven film focus and begin to transfer control to the “plot.” It’s not that the last 30 minutes can’t be explained, or aren’t charming in the moment, but they rely on an overarching sense of providence that isn’t present in the rest of the film. It’s as if Eastwood felt that all the pieces needed to come together – even though the majority of the film is spent showcasing that life, and also death, is an unpredictable experience.

This is not to say that the end of the film can’t still be powerful, or doesn’t serve as an adequate conclusion to prior events – it’s just a very simple solution to a film that’s built on an extremely complicated, and as a result, fascinating, foundation.

However, despite the somewhat simple ending, audiences will leave Hereafter with a similar understanding of what Eastwood is trying to communicate about death – as Damon asserts in the trailer, “If you’re worried about being on your own, don’t be – you’re not.”

While Hereafter is not the sci-fi drama that some moviegoers might have been led to believe it is, the film is a terrific character drama that directly addresses one of humanity’s most enduring mysteries.

Watch the trailer below to help you make up your mind:

[poll id="87"]

Follow us on Twitter @benkendrick and @screenrant and let us know what you thought of the film.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5
(Very Good)

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TAGS: 4 star movies, hereafter

94 Comments

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  1. I didnt expect too much from it,
    And I enjoyed it very much.

    • Gary, I think you are absolutely right! I expected too much. Having had readings and having read a good deal about the afterflife and exercising a keen interest I brought rather high expectations. But for $11 I had being disappointed, lol.

  2. Loved the trailer! Just waiting for the DVD! So far, what I’m seeing looks every bit as good as The Perfect Storm..

    As for his past movies, Clint has an impressive track record:

    Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and
    Million Dollar Baby

    in particular. I doubt he will disappoint me!

  3. This movie was poorly written, had no plot twists, and could have been edited down to 30 minutes with no loss to the story-line. I love Eastwood’s work, but this was pure sh*t. It’s like they spent the entire budget on the Tsunami sequence and then threw the rest of it together in a week or two for a few bucks. I want my money back. Worst move I have ever seen.

  4. I enjoyed this movie very much. I did not expect it to be a fast paced , ScFi movie.(Even though I love ScFi) My mother told me it was a story about people trying to find out where they go when they die. So I expected boring people trying out different religions. However, I loved the movie and cried serval times. The movie did not seem slow to me at all. The ending was a bit confusing though. I think I know what it means, but I’m not sure. I kind of expected a big ending too. Oh well , it was still a good movie.

    • Nice comments, well put. Not like mine, as I was very disenchanted. You at least made me a little sympathetic to this mess of a movie. :)

  5. You’re right, it was intended as an absolute. But so was what the other person posted. I fail to see how what I said deserves Vic’s ridicule.
    I thought we were beyond that here. 2 people posted very different opinions, both dealing in personal absolute, and yet it was mine that was belittled. I wonder why.

  6. I gave 5 starts to this movie. I have read many books about Spiritism and that gave me enough understanding about what was going on “between lines” for this script. Great job and thumbs up for Clint Eastwood.

    • Thank God someone gets it :)

      • you don’t get it!!!! this movie was pathetic—

  7. PS: If I heard that noise once more when Damon touched the hands, I thought Freddy Krueger was going to come out. It was so hinky!

  8. I have to add more as it comes to me, sorry. Like Damon’s character would put a ‘professional headshot’ up on the internet with his piercing blue eyes! Jay Mohr looks different. Curb Your Enthusiasm character was out of place & Soprano’s guy was completely ridiculous! The small comedy they had was at least, a relief of some sort, I do want to take a cooking class, now. That girl’s father molested her, pleez, spare me. A lot of shock-factor moments, that gave me a startle, but was needed to keep me awake. I would love to sit through it with Clint, I would be criticizing the whole time. Time to retire, Mr. Eastwood, your no ‘Play Misty for Me’ guy anymore!

  9. One more, please. Like there’s a white light at the end of tunnel and you’re weightless? I never heard that before!lol A great movie from long ago about the afterlife and such, as the Reincartion of Peter Proud, with what’s his name…wish I could see that again & so should’ve the producers of this.

  10. I think people who have the gift of seeing will need to see this movie..in a world where no one belives in anything. I’m sure i will enjoy this..for me its almost as if it was made for me to see. i can’t explain it,I can understand Damon character with the Gift or curse I like to call it..I to am running from it..anyway i really need to see it. I hope some get what they can from it. not all movies are made of monsters or aliens. Think beyond the box

    • I’ve experienced “beyond the Box” and this movie doesn’t come close!!!!!!

  11. Hereafter was excellent. OK, it was not a sci fi thriller. But, it was a sensitive wna well thought out portayal of what a medium’s life is like and how they deal with their gift.

    See the following “Hereafter” Movie Review – from a Medium’s Point of View for additional information:

  12. The 5 star rating on this movie made me sign on. I hated this movie.
    After 45 minutes I was thinking, when will something happen! I dont use
    the word hate a lot but this movie earned it.

  13. It is slow, you don’t engage with the characters, the end is predictable but not complete, lots of scenes go nowhere and at worst are far too long. I found the film very disappointing.

  14. Good review. Those last 30 minutes are bizarre – I felt that the movie couldn’t quiet decide what it wanted to be, or wanted to say. The performances are fine (particularly Damon and de France), and I was intrigued by what Eastwood had to say about mortality (although it was a little cliched), but turning the narrative around to becoming a love story in the last 30 minutes seemed lazy and predictable.

  15. While many shallow excitement seeking moviegoers will complain about the movie, I quite enjoyed it. The subject matter scratched an itch for me, and the way it came together left me leaving the theatre feeling good about it, and the locations of the London and Paris scenes were nicely chosen
    While being a complicated subject and difficult weave, Clint’s touch and the great background music soothed my soul. I give it 4 stars…..just, and hope Clint can pull off afew more of his time well spent movies before he hangs it up.

  16. This intelligent & brave movie seems to be getting the bird.

    OK, I did find it lacked focus/punch/not sure what, but at least it’s going in the right direction and you’ve got to give that a plus.

    I had 2 OB (not ND) experiences over 20 years ago that profoundly affected my life (Hey! I am NOT this body!!)

    More recently in the last 2 yrs I’ve had 2 NDE that just confirm that the essence of this film is right on. Death is as wonderful, as natural, as birth. It goes on. And on. And on

    I admire Clint for going out of the box on this; he went out on a limb. Good one buddy! Ian spr888@gmail.com Relevant, non abusive emails welcome.

  17. This was a good movie. It was never meant to be a “kapow!@*” sort of movie. Clint Eastwood (after the heart pounding opening scene) gently lays you on a pillow and glides you through real life. One needs to be patient watching this sort of film, and understand it is meant to create a quiet gentle reaction and not to be entertaining so to speak. This movie will not “entertain” but does (if you are patient) evoke a calm feeling in you. The movie dealt with the question of the hereafter, but also how life can be altered or ended without notice in a moments time, and it also makes a subtle point about how we are all somehow connected on this earth as well as the hereafter (e.g., the little girl from the market holding the teddy bear greeting Marie in the afterlife when Marie died for a moment? to the camera following Marcus who walked past the insignificant lady at the book reading who then walked past George, i.e., this served as a camera connection between Marcus and George and it led us from Marcus to George who was sitting at the reading). It also touches on the concepts of fate, destiny, and hope as well. It was a good movie.

  18. The movie can be summed up in one sentence:

    An innocent young boy gets killed by a bus and hundreds of thousands of people die in a tsunami so Marie and George can meet and kiss.

  19. I couldn’t beleive when the movie was over –it seemed like it was just getting started!!!! so in other it was a halfassed job–suprisingly by clint eastwood—very disapointing–and sad to see that was called a movie.

  20. I really enjoyed this movie, it was beautifully acted and filmed. Locations were great. I loved how you never knew where it was going or where you would end up next. The actors all delivered good solid, believeable performances. I thought the end fitted well and it was resolved nicely and did leave a “feel good” moment to the end of the film. Having been interested in occult and the afterlife, spirits etc I found the movie had a good interesting slant on the subject and it was in all very well done.

  21. Just saw this movie and I have to say that I am SHOCKED that screenrant (and many other reputable sources) gave this movie positive reviews because this movie was a complete disaster.

    Completly aimless and with no direction whatsoever I just dont understand how somebody could have enjoyed this movie. Furtheremore, while the tone and style of the film were definately characteristic of most of Eastwood’s films, the story and point were completly off the mark. Eastwood must be getting old because nothing was tied together appropriately and the ending, which was intended to be powerful and passionate, was just RIDICULOUS, I mean come on!!! I oculdnt believe that was it when the movie ended.
    What ever happened to Bryce Dallas Howard’s character, I mean she just was forgotten about? There was no overarching main point to this movie, just a buncg of events that are supposed to interelate themselves at the end of the film but just dont. WOW, just wow, I would have given this movie a 1/5: .5 for teh acting performaces (which were despite the lack of the story, great) and .5 for a decent job on directing thats it

  22. Just saw this movie and I have to say that I am SHOCKED that screenrant (and many other reputable sources) gave this movie positive reviews because this movie was a complete disaster.

    Completly aimless and with no direction whatsoever I just dont understand how somebody could have enjoyed this movie. Furtheremore, while the tone and style of the film were definately characteristic of most of Eastwood’s films, the story and point were completly off the mark. Eastwood must be getting old because nothing was tied together appropriately and the ending, which was intended to be powerful and passionate, was just RIDICULOUS, I mean come on!!! I oculdnt believe that was it when the movie ended.
    What ever happened to Bryce Dallas Howard’s character, I mean she just was forgotten about? There was no overarching main point to this movie, just a buncg of events that are supposed to interelate themselves at the end of the film but just dont. WOW, just wow, I would have given this movie a 1/5: .5 for teh acting performaces (which were despite the lack of the story, great) and .5 for a decent job on directing thats it

    DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE

  23. No. Just no. 1 star is 1 too many in my opinion. The acting was cringe-worthy, the plot was all over the place, nothing tied the scenes together; it was like watching short videos, not an entire, coherent movie. It feels like the subject is touched but not explored enough for us to care about any of the characters and the last 30 minutes… well… I thought I was watching a different movie. An even worse movie. Of course, to each his own and to the people who enjoyed it, great! I would much rather watch “The Happening” again than watch this pile of steaming BS. And that’s saying something.

  24. Clint Eastwood has turned out to be a fine director, but he is ruining his movies by insisting on scoring them himself. He is horrible. All his movie scores are the same slow, plaintive, simple piano melodies. I can’t tell them apart. They don’t even fit in the movie.

    • Hmm. Interesting point! I’ll have to rewatch Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil along with Million Dollar Baby over again. The thing is I didn’t notice.

  25. Personally I believe the film started off with a bang and then sunk to – Nothing. I do understand what Clint Eastwood was trying to protray but I feel it was a let down. I think if you like a long meaninful movie to watch then ‘Hereafter’ is perfect for you. But when I first heard of the movie was when I saw its trailer,the movie came across as it being all about Matt Damons character ” George ” and that the other characters coming to him hoping for a ‘reading’ but selfish George turned them down and then horrific tradgedies happen in their lives. It came across as a high action Sci – Fi movie with the Tsunami and Underground Bombing, and that I am sure many viewers were hoping for, but it was not brought which was a huge let down. Watching this movie I was actually very bored on the verge of turning it off, but stayed watching in the hope of something interesting happening but it did not. I feel disatisfied without answers. Such as, what happend to Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard) she didn’t return to her cooking class that was it end of her story line. I feel the the whole plot of the movie was that thousands of people died, two specific people looking for answers to their tradgedies which led them to ‘George’ hoping he had answers, ‘Marcus’ got to speak to his twin, know he is alright and learn he can live and survive without his older brother. Then there’s Marie and she got a romance the end.

  26. I gave Hereafter 5/5 stars. It had its sad and moving parts, but found a happy ending. The acting was always believable. The content was not unrealistic, just on the fringe. The sound was level, instead of having annoyingly loud action parts, followed by annoyingly quiet speaking parts. The music was very nice.

  27. Great subject to make a film about, crossing over and the realisation and awakening that there is more and the pain of being fully connected to all that is. Also for those of you that have some knowledge of the subject it will be of some interest but for the people that don’t do not go anywhere near this so called film it is by far the worse film I’ve ever seen in the hear and now and probably in the afterlife I cant imagine anything will ever be made so poorly in our future. While watching this film we laughthed and laughthed it was so bad it was just funny, it coast £3.50 on payper view were we angry hell no it was worth every penny to laughth that much

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