*1/2 (out of 5)
October 22, 2010
Matt Damon as GEORGE LONEGAN
Cécile de France as MARIE LELAY
Frankie McLaren as MARCUS
George McLaren as JASON
Thierry Neuvic as DIDIER
Bryce Dallas Howard as MELANIE
Jay Mohr as BILLY LONEGAN
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Each year around this time, you can expect several things to happen… the nights will start to get longer, the leaves will fall from the trees and Clint Eastwood will release one or two movies into the theaters with hopes of a couple Oscar nominations.
Clint’s latest effort is “Hereafter,” a film about a John Edward-style psychic who has decided to leave his talking-to-the-dead days behind him. Unfortunately, he keeps getting dragged into the old game, which some say is a blessing but he insists is a curse. Two other storylines converge with his. One is that of a French newscaster who narrowly survives the 2004 tsunami and the other is a young twin whose brother is tragically killed.
While I respect the hell out of Clint Eastwood as a director, I’ve never been a huge fan of his directorial work. Sure, he’s given us some really solid films, even in recent years, like “Gran Torino” and “Million Dollar Baby.” Unfortunately, “Hereafter” falls more in line with his lumbering snooze-fests that were “Invictus,” “Changeling” and “Flags of Our Fathers.”
“Hereafter” is competently put together with some decent, if intensely understated, acting performances by the likes of Matt Damon, Cécile de France and twins Frankie and George McLaren. Likewise, “Hereafter” looks really nice, as all of Eastwood’s films do.
The film opens with a powerful and dramatic recreation of the tsunami, showing the utter hopelessness of the victims and the raw devastation of the ocean. However, once the character of Marie is pulled from the wreckage, the film comes to an absolute screeching halt.
I was more than an hour and a half into this film, and I was fidgeting and looking at my watch. I tried to keep myself alert and awake through the doldrums of the story by trying to find some way to blurb a summary for this review. After all, I was more than 90 minutes in, and I couldn’t even say what the movie was about.
I understand that “Hereafter” is more of a character piece than anything else, and it is a story of a man seeking his own emotional redemption, but the execution of everything moves like its gears are frozen. The characters mope around through much of the movie, feeling sorry for themselves, which may or may not be warranted due to the tragedy they have faced.
The saddest part is that even when Eastwood swerves into something interesting, like when Marie travels to a renowned doctor to seek proof of an afterlife, that contemplative situation is left sitting on the screen like a cow patty in the field.
In the end, “Hereafter” feels like a wasted appointment at a bad psychic’s reading room. All the set dressing is there, but it leaves you with an empty, unsatisfied feeling inside.
Few films this year have bored me the way that “Hereafter” did. And while I will go to my grave loving Clint Eastwood as an actor and action star, I’ll still question some of his directorial decisions in the twilight of his career.