HEREAFTER

What happens after you die? Heaven? Hell? Worm food? HEREAFTER doesn't get into the theological debate. It assumes there IS something other than blackness. The question is how does one deal with it? Or in the case of the latest Clint Eastwood film, how do three people deal with it? One is a French journalist who gets caught in the Indonesian tsunami. The second is a small boy whose twin brother is killed by a van while running from bullies. The last is Matt Damon, a psychic who is able to communicate with the dead. If you were expecting a Matt Damon movie (as I was based on the trailers), you'll be disappointed. Each story line gets it's full third of the movie. Eastwood jumps back and forth between the story lines, but it's easy to follow what's going on. Cecile de France is wonderful as the journalist. Matt Damon is great as usual (can he turn in a rotten performance?). Eastwood gets the best out of all the actors. But as you must have noticed by now, I haven't really said whether the movie as a whole worked or was any good. It works on some level, but it leaves too much unanswered for my taste. Damon's character continuously claims his ability is a curse rather than a gift, but we never really get why he feels that way. He claims it keeps him from leading a normal life and *SPOILER ALERT* he does come to peace with it at the end. The boy searches for answers after his brother's death, but does he ever really come to terms with it? The journalist's therapy is writing a tell all expose that claims science knows there's a Hereafter, but is covering it up. By having to service three stories, none gets its due and leaves the audience with a lot of questions to be answered by their own assumptions. That's not necessarily a bad thing, movies should make us think. But these are more along the lines of plot holes that could have been filled in. This doesn't compare with Eastwood's best (Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River, Gran Torino, Changeling and The Outlaw Josey Wales are better). But even average Eastwood is better than half of the dreck in theaters these days. — Alan Yudman

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