Thursday, September 29, 2011

Just watched...

..."Hereafter" directed by Clint Eastwood.

There have been lots of films made over the last 100 years that suppose what any kind of “life-after-death” would look like. And I am sure the intent behind this Clint Eastwood-directed version was in earnest but it relies too heavily on clichés and the result is fairly lackluster.

Oddly, the sum of this film is less than its parts. And that takes a special kind of inertia and obfuscation to accomplish. The plot feels like it wants to be a grand pattern, weaving three separate stories together into some kind of cohesive whole at the end… except they don’t cohere.

Matt Damon plays a psychic who can communicate with the dead, Cecile de France plays a French television journalist who has a nasty near death experience in a tsunami while on vacation on a tropical island, and Frankie McLaren is a twelve year old boy in London who loses his twin brother in a car accident. The film starts out well—the action begins immediately with horrific scenes of a tsunami sweeping away Cecile de France. But the film falters from there. Matt Damon is a very talented actor, but even he can’t save the dreadfully clichéd “burdened psychic” line, “This is no gift, this is a curse!” And poor Matt Damon, he has to say it not once, but twice! In fact, everyone is talented, but they are fighting against the weight of drowsy direction, hackneyed writing, and an unoriginal plot. For an actor, even a skilled one, there is not much that can be done to combat that.

The film meanders around: Damon tries to date a woman, but alas his “curse” gets in the way (I'm not sure how or why since, despite his real psychic talent, he ends up sounding like all the fake psychics anyhow), Cecile de France writes a book about her near-death experience, and little Frankie wanders around London consulting mediums to try to talk to his dead brother. I know the ending is supposed to be a kind of connection for all of them, but it felt very anti-climactic.

I don’t want to give the impression that this film is somehow off-putting or distasteful. It has a good heart… but a good heart is not enough to make a quality, memorable, or unique film.

Recommend? Sorry, not really…

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