Hereafter (Clint Eastwood, 2010): USA

Reviewed by Kathleen Amboy.  Viewed at the Riviera, Santa Barbara, CA.

Unfolding as three separate vignettes, through a series of events relating to death, three lives become entwined in Hereafter.

Two newsroom lovers, Marie (Cecile De France) and Didier (Thierry Neuvic), vacationing in Thailand, are suddenly swept up in a giant tsunami, catching Marie in a near death experience.

In the heart of London 12 year old twin brothers, Jason and Marcus (George and Frankie McLaren), are victims of a substance abusing mother, and are at risk of being placed in foster care.

In the States, George (Matt Damon) is pressured into a psychic reading for his brother’s client.  It is soon revealed that as a child, George had a near death experience which left him with an aptitude for clairvoyance, an aptitude that he would rather ignore.

Back in France, Marie finds it increasingly difficult to focus on her work and opts for a sabbatical instead, choosing to write a book on the supernatural.  She is soon fired from her job and dumped by her lover, giving her a new found freedom to research her material.

In London, the boys’ mum sends one boy out on an errand, while the other stays with her.  A tragedy ensues ultimately leading one boy into foster care and the mother into rehab.

Stateside, George is soon let go from his blue collar job and considers returning to psychic readings, but chooses to re-evaluate his life with a long vacation instead.

And so it goes, back and forth like a ping pong ball, until the three lives eventually connect.  Unfortunately there is no connection between the characters and the audience.  We watch pitiful scenarios but never really feel their pain.  The dialogue is trite and the plot is predictable, written by the adept Peter Morgan of Frost/Nixon and The Queen.

While the performances are completely agreeable, the film leaves no immediate urge to ponder the hereafter or re-examine one’s life – or to evaluate the plot for that matter.  When the credits roll there is a void.

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