In the opening scene of Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter, a tsunami practically wipes out a small seaside town. People run to escape, but the waves catch up with them washing away an entire market in a single sweep. It’s the most effective scene in the film, and one that was responsible for the film landing an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects.
The rest of Hereafter is a slow, boring slog. Weaving together three dreary stories about death and the afterlife, this film is more pretentious than profound, and requires much patience on your part to complete.
Matt Damon is George, a regular chap in San Francisco who is cursed with the burden of being able to communicate with the dead. Belgian actress Cecile de France plays Marie, a famous news presenter in Paris, who has a near-death experience in that tsunami. And finally, George McLaren plays a London schoolboy who loses his twin brother in a road accident, and wants to connect with his spirit. Predictably, the lives of these three protagonists intertwine towards the end of the film, but that extended climax at the London Book Fair where they meet is so contrived, it reminds you of a bad M Night Shyamalan movie!
The performances border on hammy, and the tone of the film is so self-important that by the time you come to the end you’re surprised the film has nothing even remotely interesting to say about death or the afterlife.
I’m going with two out of five for Hereafter. In the absence of a stronger dramatic pulse, this is one of Clint Eastwood’s weakest films and a solid disappointment.