Dull and unmoving, Hereafter offers little more than cop out resolutions to its supernatural themes, and a lack of testicular fortitude in its refusal to utter the words “Heaven” or “God”.
It is surprising and disappointing, considering Clint Eastwood is neither a man of half measures of poor taste.
Yet what was an anticipated movie with its combo of Eastwood, scribe Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon), and Matt Damon, quickly turns into the worst type of new age hogwash, anti-religious in rhetoric and dreary in pace and plotting.
The film opens strong, with a tsunami laying to waste a tropical resort (the excellent visual effects recently earned the film an Oscar nomination).
Among the chaos is French journalist Marie (Cecile De Franc), who survives a near death experience which shakes her European secular (aka atheist) sensibilities, and proceeds on a spiritual journey which sees Marie lose her high powered life.
Crossover to England, where we find droopy faced twins Marcus & Jason (Frankie & George McLaren). When Jason dies, Marcus also seeks guidance, but more on that later.
Finally, comes George (Matt Damon), a psychic trying to ignore his gift for speaking to the dead, often dodging pleas from the bereaved who yearn to speak to their loved ones again.
It is the scenes which Damon appears in that are the best. Not only do they feature fine performances and dramatic weight (something the other two storylines lack), but with the addition of the jubilant & sensual Bryce Dallas Howard as Damon’s potential love interest, an element is introduced which is sorely lacking: emotion.
Unfortunately, those moments fail to save Hereafter from its fate, with Morgan’s script failing to tap into the potential found in this sort of material, and Eastwood equally inept with his overwrought direction and dreary original score.
Back to the young man’s spiritual journey: In his quest to speak to his deceased brother, Marcus ploughs through a succession of charlatans and fraudsters. Soon religion becomes a (fleeting) subject, and both Islam and Christianity are shunned.
The latter especially so, with one scene at an Anglican funeral featuring a disinterested and disrespectful priest going through the motions. Later, Marcus shakes his head in disbelief at the Christian concept of death as spoken via a Youtube video.
Exactly how Eastwood and Morgan figured they would get away in presenting a film on the afterlife without even mentioning God is a mystery. Yet their insistence in bashing the beliefs of religious worldviews is not only disrespectful, but illogical considering the themes on hand and its direct relationship with religion.
Perhaps a better title should have been “Hereafter: God Is Not Invited”.