TIFF Movie Review: Hereafter (2010)

Matt Damon in Hereafter
Photo: Warner Bros.

With expectation and anticipation Clint Eastwood's Hereafter screened for a small group of press at the Toronto International Film Festival. Midway through, expectation and anticipation disappeared and were replaced by hope. I hoped something would happen of consequence, something that would give me some idea why I was watching this film. Eastwood, working with an original script penned by Peter Morgan (The Queen), works on three separate plot lines only to bring them together through a matter of weak coincidence. His message at the end is quite unclear as this exploration of death seems to want to say something, but has no idea what.

Grade: C

Hereafter"Hereafter" is a Warner Bros. release, directed by Clint Eastwood and is rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements including disturbing disaster and accident images, and for brief strong language. The running time is .

The cast includes Matt Damon, Cécile De France, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jay Mohr, Derek Jacobi, Marthe Keller, Richard Kind, Frankie McLaren, George McLaren, Céline Sallette, Franz Drameh and Jenifer Lewis.

The first of three separate storylines features Marie (Cecile de France), a French journalist who has a brush with death and believes she's seen the afterlife. Meanwhile, in London, Marcus (Frankie McLaren), the youngest of two twins, is haunted by death and begins searching for answers to what happens when we die. Finally, in San Francisco, George (Matt Damon) has abandoned his one-time profession as a psychic with very real powers to speak with the dead. Seeing his "gift" as a curse, George is looking for a life of peace, one where he can hold someone's hand and isn't privy to their deepest and darkest secrets.

It's fairly obvious how these plot strands will all come together, but the journey along the way could have been much more revealing. As it turns out it is all very uninteresting and quite trivial. Marie can't shake her visions, Marcus hunts down psychics looking for answers and George strikes up a relationship with a young woman from Pittsburgh (Bryce Dallas Howard) while keeping his brother (Jay Mohr) at bay as he continually pressures George to go back to making money as a psychic. Truthfully, it's all a bit of a snooze.

The acting is decent. Damon and de France are both quite good. Damon in particular has three solid scenes, but like Gran Torino, when there's a bit of an emotional uptick the child actors have a hard time keeping up with Eastwood's fast paced shoot and their performances show it.

From a filmmaking standpoint the most interesting discussion piece is Eastwood's use of CGI to mimic a tsunami during the film's opening sequence and the brief glimpses into the afterlife we get throughout the film. It's interesting primarily because Eastwood isn't a filmmaker we typically associate with such techniques, but he's also a filmmaker unafraid to try new things and he does just fine here. None of the visuals feel too big or as if he is trying to wow us with effects in place of story. He's not trying to make 2012 and I don't think we'd ever expect him to.

Otherwise, he's working once again with Tom Stern for cinematography and Stern brings the muted color palette we've come to expect from Eastwood's films over the past several years. Eastwood also composed the score, which is almost identical to what we've heard in his films as of late. As competent as these aspects of the story may be, neither seems to fit this film, primarily the score. I got the impression Eastwood maintained a rather low-key score so as not to let the film get away from him and become more about spectacle than story. It's a mark of a true filmmaker and I respect the decision greatly, but this film needed something and it wasn't softly played acoustic guitar.

On a whole Hereafter just doesn't accomplish much. As the scenes pass by you suddenly reach a point where you're telling yourself something has got to happen soon. It never does and at just over two hours in length it makes for a rather long haul.


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  • Adu

    I wasn't impressed by the trailer, and I'm expecting average reviews for this movie in any case. Definitely wont be going to theaters to see this one.

  • Scott M

    I'm sure I'll still check this out since I haven't missed an Eastwood flick in quite some time, but I wasn't a fan of the trailer and now the poor reviews are causing me to worry. I'll probably still see this in theatres just so I can have my own opinion heading into Oscar season, but it definitely won't be a priority.

  • Colin

    Definitley still checking this one out. I'm curious to see if there will a kind of generational divide on this one between those who are still young enough to hardly contemplate death, while our elder counterparts are closer to the inevitable and will maybe find something to relate to with Eastwood's latest.

  • carrie

    i liked "gran turino" (it looks to talk about Clint Eastwood the actor and his image)and "Changeling" , i disliked "invictus"(too kind and naive for me) and i thought "HereAfter"'s trailer was not appealing but i 'll go to see the movie because it's an Eastwood movie and the casting is interesting

    i hope his next movie about Hoover will be more engaging

  • Mike

    Sucks to hear Hereafter isn't as great as all the hype. Still, you gotta love Eastwood for still going at it.

    He gives a pretty great interview with Tribute:

  • connor

    I hope it ends up good on RT. And I hope The Town does too.

  • sonofsunday

    Thats too bad. It'll still be a must-see for me, if only because of Eastwood's involvement.

  • Allan

    Too bad you didn't like it, Brad. I recall you gave a mixed review to Gran Torino, which happens to be my favourite movie of the last several years. Hopefully, I will enjoy Hereafter more than you did.

  • Dan Tralder

    I thought Hereafter was pointless. Basically, I agree with everything you said

  • MajorFIlmFan

    I thought the trailer lookedf pretty good. I LOVED Invictus (most people didn't), and I felt that Morgan Freeman was left out of a Best Actor nomination. Critics can say all the shit they want about a movie, but that shouldn't impact you seeing it, or even enjoying it. I intend to see it, and I have high hopes for it. Not in terms of Awards, or anything, but just that it's an entertaining, and thought-pervoking movie. Just becasue one man doesn't like it, doesn't mean you should leave it alone. If you like Clint Eastwood's films, then, you go and see it because it's what YOU want, not becasue it's what someone else wants.

  • Dylan Scott

    Maybe the film Hereafter clunks because it isn't an original idea. It is inspired by the real life story of the Jamison Twins, aka The Psychic Twins. The themes of cataclysmic visions, prophecy, psychic twins who are inseparable, mediumship, struggling with a powerful gift...
    sorry, but this is too similar to the true story of the twins who actually predicted 9/11 and countless other major world events.

    Too many coincidences to ignore here!

  • Kim Battern

    Totally disagree with this review. I saw Hereafter today and thoroughly enjoyed it. Go see it!