If you are expecting the Sixth Sense you should probably move on because Clint Eastwood had no time to make a supernatural thriller, this film is a better, deeper film about dealing with death and accepting it. The film is broken up by three main characters. We are first introduced to a Parisian journalist played by Cecile de France who is huge in France but relatively unknown in the US. Her character survives a Tsunami, yes the one that destroyed Indonesia, and has a brush with death. From there he career falls off track as she becomes a little obsessed with the after life. The second character is a young English boy who is devastated by the death of his twin brother. Unwilling to let go he becomes quiet obsessed with communicating with the dead and leads him to a reluctant psychic played by Matt Damon. His character has a hard time dealing with his ability to talk with the dead and closes himself off to those who need him and the ability itself.
Clint Eastwood has a unique style with his film making, everything has a beautiful look. I really can not think of a film he’s made that I have not enjoyed. Hereafter starts off with a bang where our French journalist experiences a Tsunami, the disaster is brutal, the audience is ground level with the water and the scenes are complicated but very well done. Some might have a problem with the pace of the film after the opening. The film is character based and moves at a slow pace but this does not really hurt the film, sure it could have been a little shorter but over all the three stories are so interesting I really got into it.
Matt Damon’s character is very interesting, he does not have a brush with death because he knows what is coming. His brother wants to make money off his ability and they hint that they tried but Damon’s character backed out. We can see why this would be somewhat of a curse to speak to the dead, he is hounded by people. He meets a woman in a cooking class played by Bryce Dallas Howard, as they get close he tells her about his ability. She asks for him to do a reading for her, when a truth she didn’t want to deal with comes up she leaves his life. His story is interesting and very sad at the same time. Damon’s acting style I feel grows with every film he’s in, here he is the character I’m sure audiences will connect with, he’s funny and compelling mainly because you end up asking yourself what would you do in his shoes? If you could speak to the dead would you make a profit from it, or hide from the world?
The British twins story is strong, the boys are more adult than their own mother who is a drug addicted mess. When the one boy dies the other is left alone, the mother goes to rehab, he goes int social services protection. Needing his brother he goes on a search to find someone who could speak to the dead. He runs into a number of con-artists and his hope is lost until the end of the film where he by luck meets Damon in one tear jerking scene.
The stand out to me is Cecile de France, her role is mainly in French but her character is truly tested. A face for French news, her face is on cell phone ads around Paris. After the Tsunami where she swears she saw an afterlife, everything falls apart, she looses her job, book deal and her boy friend to her younger replacement. None of this really breaks her down as she focuses on writing a book about the afterlife which leads her to London for the third act.
This film moves slowly, but Eastwood’s direction makes the three stories flow perfectly together. The filming style I guess is basic but crisp and a strong drama with adult themes and strong characters I feel was needed this time of year. So know what you’re getting into, the film is long, slower than most but totally worth your time.