Directed by Clint Eastwood
Starring Matt Damon, Cecile de France, Frankie and George McLaren, Bryce Dallas Howard
In the last decade, Clint Eastwood has directed movies about Nelson Mandela, World War II, a female boxer, a mother’s quest to find her missing child and a curmudgeon’s takedown of neighborhood bullies. It’s heartening to see a director enthralled with such a range of life experiences — Eastwood’s movies are linked not by theme or politics, but by their faith in human goodness.
Eastwood displays the same catholic curiosity in “Hereafter,” a supernatural drama about three unrelated characters who are grappling with the notion of an afterlife.
Matt Damon plays a psychic who once earned a living talking to dead people but is trying to start a new life that doesn’t revolve around spirits.
On the other side of the Atlantic is Marie (Cecile de France), a French journalist whose near-death experience softens her cynical edge, and Marcus (Frankie and George McLaren), a young boy who’s desperate to speak to his twin brother, who was killed in a freak car accident.
For a movie that deals in death, this is, remarkably, an emotionally inert movie. Eastwood, working off a script by the otherwise proven Peter Morgan, seems incapacitated by the narrative, which crams several stories into two hours. There’s no room to give these soul-searchers complexity, let alone explore the concept of the afterlife in any meaningful way. The script barely manages to get characters from point A to point B, and it’s by the grace of the actors’ talent that any emotion surfaces at all.
When the three lives finally intersect, the payoff is undermined by the awkwardness of how they all come together. Eastwood strains to maintain the quiet, unhurried sensibility that usually distinguishes his movies, but it’s futile here.