Films | Hereafter – Review

Hereafter – Review

Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on March 13, 2011 | No Comments

FILM -  Hereafter

PRODUCER -  Clint Eastwood, Kathleen Kennedy, Robert Lorenz, Steven Spielberg (Executive Producer)

DIRECTOR – Clint Eastwood

WRITER – Peter Morgan

CAST – Matt Damon, Cecil de France, Frankie Mclaren, George McLaren

MUSIC – Clint Eastwood

As much as life is an affirmation of all things positive, death changes something permanently within us. They learnt this with a single brush with death. The protagonists of Clint Eastwood’s latest film grapple with the idea of ‘hereafter’ and its effects on the ‘now’ they are living.

Marie Lelay, (Cécile de France), a French journalist on assignment in Thailand is swept away by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. She has a near-death experience and sees humans bathed in white light in the presumable ‘hereafter’. She comes back to life but this experience changes something inside her. As she tries to grapple with this change, she loses her job and decides to go deeper into the realms of her experience. She starts researching to write a book about it.
In San Francisco, there is George Lonegan, (Matt Damon) a medium and psychic, whose channel to the other world opened up suddenly after a major operation in childhood. A genuine channel to the dead he has found this ‘gift’ to be a curse and refuses to make it his identity, working as a factory worker, trying hard to live a normal life, away from the world of dead. An ardent fan of Dickens, George reflects that Dickenson polarity of exclusion and being ‘different’ and the issues that surround it.

In London, there are Marcus and Jason, (Frankie and George McLaren) two identical twins with a heroin-addicted mother. They lose Jason to a street accident when he is on his way back from picking up her mother’s detox prescription. Marcus, the more timid one who depended on Jason is shattered and so is his mother. Unable to cope with the death, Marcus is put in a foster home but he continues to search for ways to get close to his brother.

Clint Eastwood takes these three simple stories and ties them up in a relaxed narrative without sentimentality of life, moroseness of death or esotericism of the hereafter. Their journeys meets innocuously and gives each of them some learning and closure. Eastwood narrates their stories with a typical humanity, understated emotional strains surfacing in their natural form as is typical of the director.

The film asks no burning questions but operates on a belief of the existence of the after world. There is no debate between faith and scepticism rather a tenuous and empathetic underlining of the presence of life after death. It merely details the impact of this over-powering phenomena of death on our fragile human lives and does so with a touching simplicity. It makes no powerfully stirring statements but leaves a note resonating with the viewers, such is the exploration of the truth of life and its phenomena, emotional and spiritual. This sense of balance is clearly supported by controlled performances by Matt Damon, Cecile de France and Frankie MacLaren. Their dilemmas are singular yet their emotions are universal and each one of these actors bring that truth out well.

Lacking in any kind of compelling drama, ‘Hereafter’ is visually striking. The Tsunami scenes are riveting and so are the ‘after-life hallucinations’ of the protagonists. Steering clear of any kind of over-doing, the latter particularly are appealing.

‘Hereafter’ is not a rousing tale of life and death but it is a sensitively told story exploring the myths and reality of human existence beyond religion and science. The supernatural element is treated subtly without drama and while this precisely maybe too plebeian for some, this subtlety is the central conceit which makes the film delicately appreciable.

FATEMA KAGALWALA

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