HEREAFTER (Clint Eastwood)
HEREAFTER is a honest, life- affirming and introspective look into the human side of the afterlife mystery. Most films would render their own interpretations of what comes after death; HEREAFTER instead presents vague details open for anybody's interpretation. Peter Morgan's script is so heartbreakingly human it moves you. It also helps that under Clint Eastwood's capable hands and keen eye for detail, HEREAFTER makes you relate to its inspiring characters.
At the heart of the film is George Lonegan (Matt Damon), a man blessed with the gift to communicate with the dead. George regards his gift as a curse, as he believes it hinders him from having a normal life. When we are given a glimmer of hope about George's life with the arrival of Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard), a woman George meets at a cooking class, we believe that there may be life after all in living amongst the dead. Maintaining a relationship with someone who can speak with the dead is complicated; it changes things because too much information on the part of the other person destroys the mystery, hence the loss of innocence. It's like what they say: can you handle the truth?
Then there's Marie Lelay (Cecile de France), who has a near death experience during a tsunami incident in Thailand. Marie is troubled with the images she saw during the moments when she is on the "other side", and is in search of meaning.
In London, a kid named Marcus (Frankie McLaren) loses his twin brother Jason (George McLaren) in an accident. Marcus is too young to understand death and its implications, so he seeks knowledge. His journey is deeply affecting, and like any other child undergoing the harsh reality of life, the exodus is painful for the viewer. Like what happened in THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS, Marcus' sojourn to discovery and eventually the loss of innocence are pure and poignant by-products of a child pitted in a grown-up world.
Their stories intertwine, and in a universal tone, HEREAFTER tells us that the mystery of death should remain a mystery, otherwise life would be meaningless. And yet, it does help to get some answers to quench our thirst for knowledge. But at what point do we really achieve closure?
Throughout the film, common issues surrounding the afterlife are grazed upon: fake mystics, obsession, quest for meaning, your whole life flashing before your eyes, etc. etc. Above all else, the film underscores that hope will always be there, and we must always have a place for it in our hearts. People come and go, so we must make the moments in our life count.
Important note here is the San Francisco area, where Matt Damon's character resides. Eastwood knows the area too well that his storytelling is majestic. The London and France location shoots are also breathtaking.